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The We^&m Mfamsphem 


W4SHmGTON, Z?.G, 1989 


Advisory Committee 

Elmer Ellis 
yjolyersity of Missouri 

Annuel J'h^ Befflts 

Gordon A* Crsi|; 
Princeton Univem^ 

Oron J. Hak 

W. Stull Holt 
UaiV¥tsity of Washington 

Brig. Gen. John B. SuUivan 
U.S, Continental Army Command' 

Brift Oen. Edgw C. D^ieiasw 
Aimy ^liw^We|e 

Brig, Gen. Frederick R. Zieiatb 
Command and General Staff College 

Bri^ Gen. Kenneth E Zitzman 
ltv|Q$^ CtitU^ ai iht Aimed tca&& 

Col. Vincent J. Esposito 
Unired States Miiitai^ Academy 

"^.^tUtry Williams 
'Cq^IsImmi. Stats Uiii^^ 

Office of the C^ief of Military History 

iCltief Historian Kent RbS 

iGSiiief, Histories Division Col. Seneca W. Vo^ 

Chief, Editorial and Publication Divi;^ Lt. Col. E. E. Ste^fe'' 

Editor in Chief Joseph R. FrradmaHf. 

Chief, Cartographic Branch Elliot Dunay 

Chiefj Photographic Branch Margaret £, Tackley 


. . . to Those WbP Sery^d 


Self-preservation and military measures to insure the territory of the 
United States against violation by foreign powers— the subject of this book- 
ceased to be of serious concern to the United States Government and nation 
during the nineteenth century. In World War I, the Americans concen- 
trated on the offensive. In World War II, as the authors of this book remark 
in their Preface, we passed to the offensive so soon and with such force after 
the United States became engaged that the military provisions for defense 
have been obscured from view. Other volumes in the present series sketch 
these defensive plans and preparations in their general context; this and a 
succeeding volume by the same authors focus on these measures and relate 
them to the evolution of American foreign policy in the period 1938-41. The 
experience acquired in preparing for defense when the danger of direct attack 
was regarded as constituting a state of emergency is one of great interest in 
our present state of danger when deterrence has become the policy of the na- 
tion and its armed forces. 


Washington, D. C. Maj. Gen., U. S. A. 

6 June 1958 Chief of Military History 


The Authors 

Stetson Conn received his Ph.D. degree in history from Yale University 
and has taught history at Yale, Amherst College, and The George Wash- 
ington University. He joined the Office of the Chief of Military History in 
1946. In OCMH he has served in the capacities of a senior editor; Acting 
Chief Historian; Chief, Western Hemisphere Section; and Deputy Chief 
Historian. His previous publications include Gibraltar in British Diplomacy 
in the Eighteenth Century, a volume in the Yale Historical Series. He is also one 
of the authors of the forthcoming Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, 
the second volume of this subseries. 

Byron Fairchild received his Ph.D. degree in history from Princeton Uni- 
versity and has taught at the University of Maine, Amherst College, and the 
Munson Institute of Maritime History. He is the author of Messrs. William 
Pepperrell, which in 1954 received the Carnegie Revolving Fund Award of 
the American Historical Association for the outstanding manuscript in any 
field of history. A member of the OCMH staff since 1949, Dr. Fairchild is 
coauthor of three volumes in the World War II series: The Army and Indus- 
trial Manpower and, with Dr. Conn, the two volumes of The Western Hem- 
isphere subseries. He is currently writing a volume on the Army and the 
Military Assistance Program in the post- World War II period. 



This is the first of two volumes on the plans made and measures taken 
by the Army to protect the United States and the rest of the Western Hem- 
isphere against military attack by the Axis Powers before and during World 
War II. The global character of American participation in the war, described 
in the many volumes of this series, tends to obscure the primary and basic 
concern of the United States Government, and consequently of the Army, 
for the safety of the continental United States. When in the late 1930's the 
coalition of aggressor nations foreshadowed a new world war that would in- 
evitably involve the security of the United States, Army and Navy planning 
officers concluded that the continental United States could not be threatened 
seriously by either air or surface attack unless a hostile power first secured a 
lodgment elsewhere within the Western Hemisphere. To prevent that from 
happening, the United States adopted a new national policy of hemisphere 
defense. Between 1939 and 1942 the Army played a key role in executing 
this policy. The achievement of substantial security within the hemisphere 
permitted the United States to concentrate on the offensive soon after the 
Japanese attacks on Oahu and Luzon plunged the nation into open war in 
December 1941. 

The first seven chapters of this volume describe the evolution of the pol- 
icy of hemisphere defense in the three years before Pearl Harbor, the gradual 
merger of that policy into a broader national defense policy of opposing 
Germany and Japan by all-out aid to nations that were fighting them, and 
the quick transition in December 1941 to offensive plans and preparations 
for the defeat of those powers. These chapters have been designed to intro- 
duce not only the rest of this volume but also the second one being prepared 
for this subseries. Chapters VIII through XV of the present volume describe 
the military relationships of the United States with the other American na- 
tions in support of plans and preparations for continental and hemisphere 
defense, and Army ground and air action outside the continental United 
States not involving bases under exclusive American military command. 
Three of these chapters narrate the military relations of a general character 
with the Latin American nations, and five discuss in greater detail military 
co-operation with Brazil, Mexico, and Canada. 


The second volume will proceed to a description of measures taken for 
the defense of the continental United States itself, emphasizing air and coastal 
defenses, the organization of Army forces for protecting the nation before 
and during the war, and the threats to continental security after Pearl Har- 
bor. A section on Hawaii will be focused on preparations for the defense of 
Oahu and the Army's part in resistance to the Japanese attack and in secur- 
ing the islands against invasion in the months thereafter. A separate chapter 
will discuss the part played by the War Department and by Army com- 
manders in planning the evacuation of American citizens and residents of 
Japanese descent from exposed areas. Then each of the other major outpost 
areas will be treated in turn. The Alaska story will describe defense prepara- 
tions and then deal briefly with the Aleutian Islands Campaign, the only 
major ground operation to occur within the Western Hemisphere during the 
war. Several chapters will describe the system of Army defenses for the pro- 
tection of the Panama Canal and the Caribbean area, erected within the 
framework of military co-operation with the Latin American nations dis- 
cussed in this volume. Finally, the second volume will take up Army defenses 
in the Atlantic bases acquired from Great Britain in the destroyer exchange of 
1940, the extension of Army operations to Greenland and Iceland during I94l 
and 1942, and the wartime role of the chain of bases along the Atlantic front. 

The opening chapters of this volume cover substantially the same time 
span as the volume by Mark Skinner Watson in this series, Chief of Staff: 
Prewar Plans and Preparations, and the two volumes by William L. Langer 
and S. Everett Gleason on The World Crisis and American Foreign Policy. Two 
other volumes in the Army series parallel these introductory chapters in lesser 
degree, those by Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell, Strategic Planning for 
Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942, and by Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. 
Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943. In these books the authors 
are primarily concerned with the evolution of the offensive strategy adopted 
as the conflict with the Axis Powers developed. In our work, repeating factual 
details already published only when necessary, we have tried to offer a fresh 
approach to the prewar and wartime history of the Army by focusing on 
continental and hemisphere defense and by using Army records that are es- 
sential to a full exposition of this story. A description of the sources and 
secondary narratives used in the preparation of this volume will be found in 
the Bibliographical Note. 

This is a work of joint authorship and endeavor. The first twelve chap- 
ters and the conclusion are primarily the handiwork of Conn, the chapters 
on Mexico and Canada, of Fairchild. We gratefully acknowledge the very 


material contribution to this work of our professional associate, Dr. Rose C. 
Engelman, who is a coauthor of the second volume. We are also deeply in- 
debted to Mrs. Virginia D. Bosse for her careful checking and typing of the 
final draft, as well as for assistance in research. The authors and their asso- 
ciates have profited immensely from participation in a large collaborative 
history program, in which almost every aspect of the Army's activity before 
and during the nation's participation in World War II has been under scru- 
tiny. Without the free interchange of information and criticism that such a 
program makes possible, the research and writing for this volume would have 
been much more difficult and we would have presented our story with much 
less confidence. 

In particular we are indebted to Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief His- 
torian of the Office of the Chief of Military History, whose encouragement, 
guidance, and careful criticism have been invaluable assets to our volume 
since its inception. Within the Office also Drs. Louis Morton, Richard M. 
Leighton, Maurice MatlofF, and Robert W. Coakley, and Mr. Detmar H. 
Finke read all or parts of the text and gave us the benefit of their specialized 
knowledge. Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward, former Chief of Military History un- 
der whom work on the volume was begun, and Brig. Gen. Paul McD. Robi- 
nett, former Chief of the Special Studies Division, gave expert and very 
helpful criticism to the opening chapters; and Col. Ridgway P. Smith, Jr., 
Chief of the War Histories Division, reviewed the whole work with his usual 

We are deeply obliged to many outside the Office of the Chief of Mili- 
tary History who have given freely of their time, knowledge, and wisdom in 
providing us with comment and criticism. As members of the review panel. 
Professor Samuel F. Bemis and former Chief of Military History Maj. Gen. 
Harry J. Malony read and commented on the whole manuscript with great 
care, and Maj. Gen. Robert L. Walsh and Col. John C. MuUenix were par- 
ticularly helpful in commenting on the chapters dealing with Latin American 
military relations. The account of defense activities involving the United 
States and Canada owes much to the penetrating comments of Col. Charles 
P. Stacey, Director of the Canadian Army's Historical Section. We, like so 
many other historians, owe a substantial debt to the late Capt. Tracy B. 
Kittredge, USNR, not only for use of his invaluable manuscript history of 
Anglo-American naval co-operation before Pearl Harbor but also for a de- 
tailed commentary on the opening chapters of our work. We also received 
very substantial benefit from access to manuscripts by Drs. William L. 
Langer and S. Everett Gleason before their publication as The Challenge 


to Isolation and The Undeclared War, and much helpful criticism from them 
on our own work. 

Our effort in research has been facilitated first of all by the unfailingly 
cheerful and helpful assistance of Mr. Israel Wice, Chief of the OCMH Gen- 
eral Reference Office, and of his staff. We are similarly indebted to staffs 
of depositories of Army records; though space does not permit our expres- 
sion of thanks to all of them, we acknowledge in particular the assistance of 
Mr. Wilbur J. Nigh and Mrs. Hazel E. Ward of the Departmental Records 
Branch. We also record our appreciation to Dr. Herman Kahn, Director of 
the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, and to members of his staff, for access to 
and friendly guidance into the President's papers; and to Professor McGeorge 
Bundy of Harvard University for access to the diary of Secretary of War 
Henry L. Stimson. 

Lastly, we wish to express our appreciation to Miss Mary Ann Bacon for 
her thoughtful and considerate final editing of the volume; to Mrs. Bosse 
and to Mrs. Marion P. Grimes for careful copy editing; and to Virginia C. 
Leighton for the Index. 

These acknowledgments of assistance are in no way delegation of re- 
sponsibility for the contents of the volume. The presentation and interpre- 
tation of events it contains are the authors' own, and we alone are responsible 
for faults of commission or omission. 

Washington, D. C. STETSON CONN 




Chapter Page 


Hemisphere Security and the Axis Threat 5 

The RAINBOW Plans 7 

The Problem of Bases 10 

The Army's State of Readiness in 1939 l4 

Preparedness Measures, April-September 1939 19 

The Strategic Outlook, Autumn and Winter, 1939-40 25 

II. THE CRISIS OF 19^0 30 

The Defeat of Prance and Repercussions in America 31 

Decisions on National Policy 36 

Mobilization 41 

The Fate of European Possessions 44 

The Destroyer-Base Agreement 51 

American Military Preparations and the War Outlook, July-October 1940 ■ 62 


The German Position, Summer 1940 68 

The Tripartite Pact and Japan 74 

The Gibraltar- Africa Project 76 


1940-41 82 

Emergency Expeditionary Force Plans 83 

New Definitions of National Policy 88 

The New Outlook Toward the War 96 


Naval Plans and Preparations 103 

The Crisis of May 1941 110 

The Azores and Brazil 116 

The Crisis Resolved 121 


Operations in the North Atlantic 132 

The German Threat in the Southern Atlantic 135 


Chapter Page 

Military Policy and Army Readiness, Autumn 1941 143 

The Approach to War 149 


The Reaction to Pearl Harbor . 156 

Planning for the Offensive 161 

The ARCADIA Decisions 169 


The Staff Conversations and Agreements of 1940 175 

Other Measures To Improve Military Relations 183 

Planning for the Support of Friendly Governments 186 

The Organization of Military Relationships, 1941-42 191 

Military Assistance to Latin America in 1942 200 


Latv, Policy, and Procedure 208 

The Latin American Arms Program of 1941 217 

Airplanes for Latin America 225 

Special Problems During 1941 228 

Arms Supply After Pearl Harbor 232 


The Control of Civil Aviation 239 

The Airport Development Program 249 

Preparing for Air Operations 259 


The Problem of Arms Supply 268 

War Plans and Staff Agreements, 1940 272 

The Mission of General Amaro Bittencourt 278 

The Security Force Plan, June 1941 284 

Joint Staff and General Headquarters Planning 289 

Munitions for Brazil in 1941 293 

The Army's Quest for Action 296 



Emergency Airfield and Airway Security Measures 304 

Brazil Theater Planning 307 

The Approach to Collaboration 312 

The United States Army Forces South Atlantic 320 

Defense Planning and the Brazilian Expeditionary Force 327 


Chapter Page 



Gathering Momentum 333 

The Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission 338 

The Mexican Corridor 344 

The United States and the Security of Mexico 351 

Mexico and the Defense of California 356 



Rapprochement 365 

The Ogdensburg Meeting and Its Result 370 

The Functioning of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense 373 

Basic Problems of Responsibility and Command 377 

The Pre-Pearl Harbor Pattern of Joint Defense 383 



The Air and Land Routes to Alaska 391 


The Cost, Control, and Permanent Disposition of Facilities in Canada . . 403 

Completing the Machinery of Collaboration 406 

Preface to the Present 408 





INDEX 437 




The Problem of Hemisphere Defense 

Immediately after the Munich crisis of September 1938, the United States 
moved toward a new national policy of hemisphere defense. Although one 
of the fundamental foreign policies of the United States was the Monroe 
Doctrine, with its admonition against any European or Asiatic political or 
military intrusion into New World affairs, the nation in the immediately 
preceding years had neither the desire nor the military means to engage in a 
unilateral defense of the Americas. After World War I the American peo- 
ple, influenced by the overwhelming preponderance of friendly naval and 
military power in western Europe, became increasingly isolationist and in- 
creasingly indifferent toward maintaining enough military strength to defend 
even their own continental and outlying territory against a strong adversary. 
The rise of aggressive dictatorships in Europe during the pre- World War II 
decade found the United States Army in condition to do no more than de- 
fend the continental United States, Oahu, and the Panama Canal Zone. 
The Navy, relatively much stronger than the Army, was tied down in the 
Pacific by Japan's naval expansion and aggressive action in China. There- 
fore, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, six weeks after the 
Munich settlement, that "the United States must be prepared to resist attack 
on the western hemisphere from the North Pole to the South Pole, includ- 
ing all of North America and South America," ' the Army and Navy were 
presented with a much bigger mission than they were then prepared to 

Until the President gave his "quarantine" speech the year before, on 5 
October 1937, the avowed policy of the Roosevelt administration came near 
to being one of peace at any price, unless the United States was directly at- 
tacked. Under the circumstances, and in view of its own very limited 
strength, the Army at the beginning of 1937 held that its mission was con- 
fined to defense of United States territory against external attack, protection 
of the nation against internal disorder and insurrection, and maintenance, 
during peace, of a sufficient force to permit expansion to the extent de- 

' Report, n.d., written by Maj Gen Henry H. Arnold, of conference at White House, 14 Nov 
38, OCS Conf Binder 1, Emergency Measures, 1939-40. 



manded by an emergency.- Current war plans did not envisage even the pos- 
sibility of war with the European dictatorships. When, in the summer of 
1937, with preludes to World War II already in progress in Spain and 
China, a War Department General Staff study expressed concern about the 
Army's state of preparedness for meeting "serious threats to the continental 
United States and its possessions," one officer underscored this clause and 
added the query: "How about threats to other nations in the Western 
Hemisphere.'" His question remained unanswered.' 

When President Roosevelt recommended a substantial increase in appro- 
priations for the Army in January 1938, he defined adequate national defense 
as "simultaneous defense of every part of the United States of America" and 
stated, "we must keep any potential enemy many hundred miles away from 
our continental limits." * The President extended national defense policy in 
more specific terms in an address at Kingston, Ontario, on 18 August 1938. 
"I give to you assurance," he said, "that the people of the United States will 
not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other 
Empire." ' His assurance recognized that the long unfortified border with 
Canada made it inevitable that the United States should consider Canadian 
defenses a part of the outpost line of its own continental defense system. 

The President moved toward a broader policy as soon as he became con- 
vinced that the Nazis intended to liquidate Czechoslovakia. After listening 
to Adolf Hitler's broadcast on 12 September, President Roosevelt directed 
Harry L. Hopkins to make a personal survey of the west coast aviation in- 
dustry and report on its capacity for expansion. Following the Munich 
agreement of 30 September, and particularly after Ambassador William C. 
Bullitt returned from France on 13 October with a firsthand report on the 
European situation, the President pressed an expansion of air strength with 
great vigor. The Hopkins survey, Mr. Bullitt's report, the urgings of As- 
sistant Secretary of War Louis Johnson and of the new Chief of the Air 
Corps, Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, and the President's own realization that 
the technological development of airpower now posed a threat to the United 
States from any hostile Western Hemisphere base, all combined to forge not 

^ Memo, WPD for CofS, 5 Feb 37, WPD 3748-3. 

* G-2 study, title: The Existing International Situation (and pencil notation thereon), forwarded 
with Memo, G-2 for WPD, 31 Aug 37, WPD 3748-9. 

Message to Congress, 28 Jan 38, United States Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace 
and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington: 1943) (hereafter cited as Peace 
and War), p. 405. 

' The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, compiled by Samuel I. Rosenman, 
1938 volume: The Continuing Struggle for Liberalism (New York: The MacmiUan GDmpany, 1941) 
(hereafter cited as FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1938) , p. 493. 



only a new milicary air program but also the prewar policy of hemisphere 
defense, Both program and policy were settled upon at a momentous con- 
ference on 14 November 1938, at which the President announced his imme- 
diate goal to be an Army air force of 10,000 planes and an aircraft productive 
capacity of 10,000 planes a year. Observing that "our national defense ma- 
chine . . . was weakest in Aimy planes," the President went on to say, "we 
must have a large air force in being to protect any part of the North or South 
American continent, and we must have a sufficiently large air force to deter 
anyone from landing in cither North or South America." * The next day 
President Roosevelt informed newsmen in general terms of what had been 
said at the confetence, and specifically of the new determination of the 
United States to maintain continental secutity from Canada to Tierra del 
Fucgo against any possible threat from other continents. In response to a 
direct question as to whether the problem of national defense had now be- 
come a problem of continental defense, the President answered: "Yes, but 
continental defense that does not rest solely on out shoulders."^ 

Hemisphere Security and the Axis Threat 

As President Roosevelt fecogni2ed, the new national policy, and conse- 
quent military objective, of hemisphere defense needed the friendly and 
active support of other American nations in order to be effective. During the 
Munich crisis, the Department of State had begun to plan the strengthen- 
ing of what Assistant Secretary Adolf A. Berle termed "the north-south 
axis." ^ To the north, the way toward closer ties had already been prepared 
by meetings between the President and Canadian Prime Minister William 
L. Mackenzie King and by informal military staff talks at the beginning of 
1938.' To the south, the United States availed itself of the general Pan-Amer- 
ican conference that had already been scheduled to meet in Lima, Peru, in 

^ Repon, n.d., written by Gen Arnold, of conference at White House, 14 Nov 38, OCS Conf 
Binder 1, Emergency Measures, 1939-40, See also, Mark Skinner Watson, Chief ef Staff: Prtwar 
Plans and Preparations. UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington: 1950} 
(hereafter cited as Prewar Flans and PreparatKins) , pp. 125-39; Genera! H. H. Arnold, Global 
Mtsirsn (New York: Harper ae Brothers, 1949), pp. 171-80; Joseph Alsop and Robert Kintner, 
American White Paper (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc.. 1940), pp. 6-14; William Frye, 
Marshatl: Citizen Soldier (Indianapolis: The Bobbs- Merrill Company, 1947), pp. 249-55; Robert 
E. Sherwood, Rmievelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948) 
(hereafter cited as Rouseveh and Hopkins), pp. 99-101; and Willjanj L. Langer and S. Kverert 
Gleason, The Challenge to Isolation, I9i7-1940 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952) (hereafter 
cited as Challenge to Isolation}, pp. 36-39. 

' FDR Publie Papers and Addresses, I9}S, pp. 598-600. 

' Als op and K Jntner, American White Paper, pp. 16-17. 

i'See |Ch. Xivl below. 



December 1938. The goal of the United States at Lima was to secure the adop- 
tion of a "hemispheric foreign policy," and Secretary of State Cordell Hull 
succeeded in obtaining unanimous adherence to a declaration that "affirmed 
the intention of the American Republics to help one another in case of a for- 
eign attack, either direct or indirect, on any one of them." The Declaration 
of Lima became the cornerstone for later negotiations to insure the political, 
economic, and military co-operation of the Latin American nations against 
the threats of Axis and Japanese aggression. 

These threats seemed very real in 1938 and 1939. In early 1938 the De- 
partment of State compiled a catalogue of German and Italian activities and 
used it as a basis for urging the War and Navy Departments to adopt meas- 
ures for closer military collaboration with other American nations." Rumors 
of Japanese interest in olfshore islands along the Pacific coast of the Amer- 
icas, reports of Japanese reconnaissance under the guise of "fishing" along 
the Mexican and Central American coasts, rumors of German interest in 
Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic, reports of German plots to foment 
revolutions in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina— these were typical examples 
of items that induced a growing alarm in administration circles during 
1938.'^ In addition, Nazi and Fascist propaganda against the United States 
in Latin America was violent and ceaseless, and Nazi barter techniques and 
clandestine subsidization by the German Government were making deep in- 
roads in the Latin American market. After summarizing the variety of ac- 
tivities in which the Axis Powers and Japan were engaging at the time of 
the Lima Conference, Secretary Hull wrote in retrospect: 

To me the danger to the Western Hemisphere was real and imminent. It was not 
limited to the possibility of a military invasion. It was more acute in its indirect form of 
propaganda, penetration, organizing political parties, buying some adherents, and black- 
mailing others. We had seen the method employed with great success in Austria and in 
the Sudetenland. The same technique was obvious in Latin America." 

President Roosevelt took perhaps the broadest and most prescient view 
of the growing menace to the Americas. To a group of congressmen in 
February 1939, he expressed his opinion that war in Europe was almost cer- 
tainly in the offing and that Hitler's immediate objective was the domination 
of Europe. But, he added, "as soon as one nation dominates Europe, that 

"> Cordell Hull, Memoirs, 2 vols. (New York; The Macmillan Company, 1948), I, 608. The 
text of th e declarati on is in United States Department of State, Peace and War, pp. 439-40. 
" See ICh. VIII J below. 

The items mentioned were discussed at meetings of the Standing Liaison Committee (State- 
War-Navy) on 20 June and 14 November 1938 and at a meeting of its Joint Secretariat on 26 
September 1938. SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 12, 18, 19. 
" Hull, Memoirs, I, 602. 



nation will be able to turn to the world sphere." Three months later, speak- 
ing to another Congressional delegation, the President reiterated his convic- 
tion that war in Europe was imminent, and he predicted that in the event of 
war there was an even chance that the Axis Powers would win over France 
and Great Britain. The President then went on to say: 

In that case their first act would be either to seize the British Navy or put it out of 
action. Then they would establish trade relations with Latin America, put instructors in 
the armies, etc. They would probably not touch British, French or Dutch possessions in 
this hemisphere. But in a very short time we would find ourselves surrounded by hostile 
states. Further, the Japanese, who "always like to play with the big boys," would prob- 
ably go into a hard and fast alliance. The combined German and Italian Navies were 
about the equal of ours and the Japanese was about eighty percent of ours. Therefore, 
the temptation to them would always be to try another quick war with us, if we got 
rough about their South American penetration." 

It was this specter of a victorious Axis triumvirate dominating the European 
and Asiatic continents, rather than any immediate military threat to the 
security of the Western Hemisphere, that was grimly disturbing not only to 
the President but also to his military advisers as they turned to their task of 
formulating new war plans to cope with the menacing world situation. 

The RAINBOW Plans 

The Army and Navy before 1939 had confined their war planning prin- 
cipally to calculating what they could do to meet a threatened attack on 
American territory by individual nations. Only the Orange plan, which 
dealt with the contingency of a Japanese attack, had much relevance in the 
light of the international situation at the end of 1938 and the new national 
policy of hemisphere defense. Anticipating the President's formal enuncia- 
tion of the new policy, the Joint Board on 8 November decided to instruct 
its Joint Planning Committee to make a thorough investigation of the 
"various practicable courses of action open to the military and naval forces 
of the United States, in the event of (a) violation of the Monroe Doctrine, 
by one or more of the Fascist powers, and (b) a simultaneous attempt to 
expand Japanese influence in the Philippines." The planners were further 
told to base their study and recommendations on the assumptions: 

(a) Germany, Italy, and Japan may be joined in an alliance. 

(b) The action of any one or two of these Fascist nations will receive the sympathetic 
support of the others. 

Alsop and Kintner, American White Paper, p. 30. 
" Remarks recorded by Carlton Savage of the Department of State in a memorandum of 19 
May 1939 and quoted in Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 138-39. 



(c) Democratic nations will remain neutral as long as their possessions in the western 
hemisphere are unmolested."^ 

Such a survey would amount to a reassessment by the Army and Navy of 
what they could do in defense of the Western Hemisphere under the most 
unfavorable foreseeable development of world affairs. 

The Joint Planning Committee went to work immediately on its explora- 
tion of the strategic position of the United States. An indication of the plan- 
ners' approach to their task is contained in the following questions concerning 
co-operation with Latin America: 

a. May co-operation with the United States be expected in the direction of resisting 
attempts by Germany, Italy, or Japan to dominate the internal political organization 
of these countries? 

b. May similar co-operation be expected in the direction of resisting attempts to de- 
flect the normal flow of trade away from the United States? 

c. May similar co-operation be expected in the direction of resisting attempts to es- 
tablish under any guise air bases or naval bases which may be used by the armed forces 
of either Germany, Italy, or Japan? 

d. To what extent may it be expected that the active co-operation of the United States 
in resisting foreign encroachment or invasion would be welcome? 

e. To what extent may it be expected that air base or naval base facilities would be 
willingly offered for the use of the United States in the defense of the Western 

f What practicable air base and naval base facilities now exist in each of these coun- 
tries, and briefly, to what extent are they susceptible to development? " 

After five months' intensive study, the planners submitted their final report 
to the Joint Board on 21 April 1939. The board properly described the re- 
port as a monument to its authors, since it provided a sound and compre- 
hensive estimate that served as a basis for the detailed strategic planning that 

With respect to the Atlantic situation, the Joint Planning Committee 
concluded that Germany and Italy might be expected to encroach progres- 
sively in Latin America, initially through intensive economic penetration, 
then through political interference that might reduce Latin American gov- 
ernments to subservient or even colonial status, and finally through 
establishment of military bases. The first military move of the Axis Powers 
would probably be an attempt to occupy the area around Natal, on the east- 
ern bulge of Brazil, in order to strengthen their strategic position in the South 

"5 Ltr, JB to JPC, 12 Nov 38, JB 325, ser 634. The Joint Board consisted of the Chief of 
Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations, and their principal deputies and planning assistants; the 
Joint Planning Committee, of officers detailed from the two services' War Plans Divisions. 

" Memo, WPD for G-2, 16 Nov 38, WPD 4115-1. 

i» Capt Tracy B. Kittredge, USN, MS, U.S.-British Naval Cooperation, 1939-1945 (hereafter 
cited as Kittredge MS), Ch. 4, App. A, p. 29. 



Atlantic; subsequently, they might extend their military control to positions 
from which they could launch direct attacks on the Panama Canal. In the 
Pacific, Japan's objectives would be the seizure of the Philippines and Guam 
and the elimination of all Western influence from eastern Asia and the west- 
ern Pacific. The report pointed out that, if Germany, Italy, and Japan were 
to strike simultaneously, their attacks would present the United States with 
a critical dilemma: Its existing naval power was certainly strong enough to 
fend off Germany and Italy in the Atlantic and possibly could be made strong 
enough to protect the American position in the western Pacific; it certainly 
could not do both simultaneously. The planners did not propose any solu- 
tion to this dilemma — which, fundamentally, called for a choice between 
hemisphere defense on the one hand and defense of American territory and 
interests in the western Pacific on the other— but they did insist that priority 
must be given to protection of the Panama Canal and the Caribbean area, 
the position and region most vital to the defense of the United States. 

The Joint Planning Committee ended its report of 21 April by recom- 
mending the measures that it considered most essential to the immediate 
improvement of American defenses. Briefly, these were the rapid completion 
of planned defense installations in Hawaii and the Canal Zone, steps to im- 
prove the security of the Panama Canal and to enlarge its locks, development 
of Alaskan and Puerto Rican defenses (neither of which had any worthy of 
mention at this time), development of Pacific naval bases, an increase in the 
Fleet Marine Force to fifteen thousand men, organization of a three-division 
emergency expeditionary force by the Army, and a rapid increase in naval 
strength, especially in vessels and aircraft for antisubmarine operations. 

The Joint Board approved the report on 6 May 1939 and ten days later 
directed the Joint Planners to begin work on a series of war plans that would 
match the varying situations that might develop. For planning purposes, this 
directive defined the Western Hemisphere "as including the Hawaiian Is- 
lands, Wake Island, American Samoa, and the Atlantic Ocean as far east as 
the 30th Meridian of West Longitude." The general concepts for each of 
five alternate Rainbow plans were determined by the end of June, and 
Rainbonx^ 1, the basic plan, received official Army and Navy approval in 
August and President Roosevelt's assent in October. Rainbow 1, the pro- 
jected Rainbow 4, and supplementary plans that evolved from them pro- 
vided the principal bases for Army defense preparations until 1941. 

Rainbow 1 called for the protection of all United States territory (but 
no reinforcement of the Philippines) and of the remainder of the Western 
Hemisphere north of latitude 10° south, a line that bisects South America 



just below the Peruvian and Brazilian bulges. In accordance with the Joint 
Board's basic directive of November 1938, Rainbow 1 assumed that the de- 
mocracies of Europe and Latin America would remain neutral and that United 
States forces alone would be available to resist an attack. In contrast to 
Rainbow 1, Rainbow 2 and Rainbow 3 envisioned active defense of 
American interests in the western Pacific. Rainbow 4 was similar to Rain- 
bow 1, a principal difference being that it called for protection of the entire 
Western Hemisphere. Rainbow 5 envisaged a war in which the United 
States would act in concert with Great Britain and France; in addition to do- 
ing all of the things called for in Rainbow 1, Rainbow 5 contemplated 
the dispatch of American forces "to either or both of the African or European 
continents in order to effect the defeat of Germany, or Italy, or both." So 
far as hemisphere defense measures were concerned, there was little difference 
among the Rainbow plans of 1939. Each allotted the Army and Navy the 
primary task of defending the Western Hemisphere against military attack 
from the Old World; when the successful accomplishment of that task had 
been assured, American forces might then engage in offensive operations, 
either alone or in concert with those of other powers, against the aggressor 

The Problem of Bases 

The Joint Board's approval of the first Rainbow plan in August 1939 
brought to the fore the problem of securing permission for American forces 
to use military base facilities in other Western Hemisphere nations and in 
European possessions in the New World. To carry out the hemisphere de- 
fense missions of the Army and Navy as outlined in RAINBOW 1 the planners 
agreed that, in addition to new defenses recommended for Alaska and Puerto 
Rico, it was also necessary to obtain use of limited base facilities in various 
British possessions (Trinidad heading the list), in Brazil (at Natal and at 
other points on or adjacent to the Brazilian bulge), along the northern coast 
of South America (in Colombia and Venezuela), at Guayaquil in Ecuador 
and on Cocos and the Galapagos Islands, and at Samana Bay in the Dominican 
Republic. Admiral Harold R Stark, the new Chief of Naval Operations, sent 
a copy of Rainbow 1 to Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles on 14 Au- 

" The information in this and the three preceding paragraphs has been derived principally 
from: Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 May 39, WPD 4X75; WPD Memo, 7 Aug 39, WPD 3493-13; 
JB 325, sers 634, 642, 642-1; and the Kittredge MS, Ch. 4, Apps. A and B. For a more detailed 
account of the inception and development of the Rainbow plans, see Maurice Matloff and Edwin 
M. Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington: 1953) (hereafter cited as Strategic Planning, 1941^2), pp. 5-8. 



gust 1939 and asked the Department of State to enlist the co-operation of 
the nations concerned in making available base facilities for American mili- 
tary operations at the points enumerated.^" Steps in this direction were taken 
immediately after the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939. The 
British agreed to a limited use of base facilities in Bermuda, St. Lucia, and 
Trinidad by United States Navy vessels and aircraft assigned to the neutrality 
patrol of Atlantic waters; and the Department of State arranged with some 
of the Caribbean nations for emergency use of their facilities.^' 

The question of acquiring new base facilities in the Western Hemisphere 
had been explored on various occasions before August 1939. In a thorough 
canvass of the problem in 1936, prompted by Congressional proposals to an- 
nex European possessions in return for cancellation of World War I debts, 
the Army came to the conclusion that no move of this sort would be wise. 
The Army assumed that it was against national policy to acquire new terri- 
tory except for urgent strategic reasons. It also assumed that the Latin Amer- 
icans would resent the territorial expansion of the United States within the 
Western Hemisphere, either in their own territory or in the possessions of 
the European powers. Any such move by the United States would be certain 
to raise anew the cry of "Yankee Imperialism" and undermine the friendly 
relations recently established through the "Good Neighbor" policy. The Army 
examined in turn every colonial area in North and South America and con- 
cluded that none of them had a military value sufficient to offset the disad- 
vantages of American ownership. On the other hand in 1936, as well as later, 
the Army expressed its strong opposition to the transfer of any existing Eu- 
ropean possession to another Old World power." 

The United States had taken a particular interest before 1939 in the 
Galapagos Islands, owned by Ecuador and located about 1,000 miles south- 
west of Panama. These undefended and almost uninhabited islands in hostile 
hands could become a serious threat to the Panama Canal. Conversely, an 
American base there would permit a wide aerial reconnaissance of the Pacific 
to guard against a naval attack on the Canal. Rumors circulated in the fall 
of 1938 that Ecuador wished to sell the Galapagos to the United States. At 
the beginning of 1939, Maj. Gen. David L. Stone, the commanding general 

^° Kittredge MS, Ch. 4, App. B, pp. 51-52. 

^' Memo, Adm Stark, CNO, for President Roosevelt, 4 Sep 39, sub: Summary of Current Items, 
Roosevelt Papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. (FDRX). This memorandum 
announced that the Navy had obtained aviation bases for "routine training flights" in Bermuda, 
St. Lucia, and Trinidad, for which nominal rentals were to be paid. On the Latin American 
arrangements, see Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 215-16. 

2' Memo, DCofS for WPD, 1 Dec 36; Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Dec 36. Both in WPD 



of the Panama Canal Department, recommended that the United States pur- 
chase both the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador and the intervening Cocos 
Island from Costa Rica, on the ground that they were essential to defense of 
the Canal. The War Department at first favored General Stone's recommen- 
dation but subsequently had to disapprove it because of the Navy's opposition 
and for broader political reasons. It also disapproved his later suggestion that 
the United States secure base facilities in these islands through a long-term 

While General Stone's recommendation with respect to the Galapagos 
was under consideration in Washington, Under Secretary of State Welles 
called President Roosevelt's attention to unconfirmed reports that Chile might 
be willing to sell Easter Island to the United States.^"* The President, noting 
that Easter Island was "a definite possibility as a stopping place for trans-South 
Pacific planes," stated, "it should, therefore, under no circumstances, be trans- 
ferred to a non- American power."" Two months later. Under Secretary 
Welles announced the same principle with respect to the Galapagos Islands 
when he informed Congress, "any endeavor on the part of any non- American 
power to purchase or lease the Islands or to use any part of them for a naval, 
military, air, or even a commercial base under whatever terms would be a 
matter of immediate and grave concern to this Government." These state- 
ments amounted to a strong reaffirmation of the nontransfer principle of the 
Monroe Doctrine, a principle so basic in prewar planning for hemisphere de- 
fense that Army officers sometimes defined the doctrine in that term alone. 

From the viewpoint of the armed services, the most serious and pressing 
base problem in the summer of 1939 was that of securing the right to estab- 
lish air and naval base facilities at or near Natal in Brazil, as proposed in 
Rainbow l. The developing range of aircraft made Brazilian territory at this 
point easily accessible from the western bulge of Africa and its adjacent is- 
lands. The Military Intelligence Division (G-2) estimated in midsummer 
of 1939 that Germany and Italy then had more than 3,000 planes capable of 
flying the South Atlantic with a bomb load." Northeastern Brazil had no 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 4 Oct 34, AG 601.1 ( 10-4-34); Notes on SLC Joint Secretariat 
mtg, 23 Nov 38, and on SLC mtg, 9 Dec 38, SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 21 and 26; Ltr, CG PCD 
to TAG, 5 Jan 39, AG 601.1 (10-4-34); Memo, WPD for CofS, 13 Apr 39, WPD 3782-4; 1st 
Ind, TAG to CG PCD, 17 Jun 39, on Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 2 Jun 39, WPD 3782-6; Ltr, TAG 
to CG PCD, 29 Jul 39, AG 601.1 (10-4-34). 

" Located roughly 2,000 miles west of Chile and 2,000 miles southwest of the Galapagos. 

" Ltr, Welles to President, 14 Mar 39; Memo, President for Welles, 25 Mar 39. Both in 
Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

" Ltr, Under Secy State to SW, 12 May 39, AG 601.1 ( 10-4-34). 

" Tab B, par I2a, Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 39, WPD 3807-41. 



land defenses, and in 1939 Brazilian land, sea, and air forces were wholly in- 
capable of defending the Natal area against overseas attack. The Army and 
Navy agreed that a base at Natal was essential for the effective defense of the 
South American continent. In March 1939 the Navy urged "the absolute ne- 
cessity for a base of operations in or near the eastern extremity of South 
America in case the South Atlantic is to be controlled by any force." Three 
months later, in June, the Army's Air Board termed an air base at Natal a 
fundamental requirement for defense operations in South America.^^ One of 
the strongest arguments in favor of the projected Natal base was that if 
United States forces were sent there first, a hostile military expedition would 
find it difficult if not impossible to dislodge them, nor could German or Ital- 
ian forces launch a major attack against any other part of the South American 
continent while the Brazilian bulge was protected by American forces; on 
the other hand, if Axis forces established themselves on the bulge first, it 
would require a formidable effort to dislodge them.'" Despite the priority of 
Natal on the list of desired bases, it took nearly three years of delicate and 
involved political and military negotiations to secure Brazilian permission to 
station United States Army forces in the area." 

Except for its interests in the Galapagos Islands and Natal, the Army in 
1939 was less concerned than the Navy with proposals to acquire the use of 
foreign areas for defense purposes. During May 1939, for example, the War 
Department held that neither Greenland nor the Dutch West Indies had 
sufficient military value to warrant their purchase.'^ The Air Board report of 
June recommended the establishment of an Army air base on Trinidad as 
well as at Natal,'"^ but the Army was more immediately interested in the de- 
velopment of an air base on Puerto Rico, essential for the defense of the eastern 
approaches to the Caribbean and as a steppingstone toward South American 
air bases. When a deceptive stalemate followed Hitler's quick triumph over 
Poland, agitation by the Army and Navy for base expansion subsided, al- 
though planners continued to think in terms of hemisphere defense opera- 
tions by United States forces with access to such strategic base sites as might 
be necessary. 

Navy Dept Ltr of 15 Mar 39, quoted in Langer and Gleason, Challenge to halation, p. 136. 
" Tab X', par 12, Air Bd Report, 26 Jun 39, WPD 3748-17. 

This argument i s deve loped in Tab X', pars 1-5, Air Bd Report, 26 Jun 39, WPD 3748-17. 
" See Chs.[Xl]and[XIl] below. 

« On Greenland: Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 May 39; and Ltr, SW to Dir Bur of Budget, 16 
May 39. Both in WPD 4173. On Dutch West Indies: Memo, WPD for CofS, 13 May 39; and 
Ltr, SW to Dir Bur of Budget, 16 May 39. Both in WPD 4172. 

" Tab F, par. 8, Air Bd Report, 26 Jun 39, WPD 3748-17. 



The Army's State of Readiness in 1939 

The War Department in Washington headed the Army's command or- 
ganization for planning and directing the new operations for national and 
hemisphere defense that were in prospect in the summer of 1939. The War 
Department consisted of the Secretary of War's Office, the Office of the Chief 
of Staff assisted by a General Staff of five divisions, and the headquarters of 
the arms and of the technical and administrative services in the national cap- 
ital. Although the Secretary of War exercised general administrative control 
over all Army activities, the Chief of Staff actually commanded the military 
forces at home and overseas and (from July 1939 onward, as required) re- 
ported directly to the President on matters relating to strategy, tactics, and 
operations.*'' Of the General Staff divisions, the War Plans Division was the 
one most immediately and extensively concerned with planning and super- 
vising new military operations; eventually it evolved into a wartime com- 
mand post for the Chief of Staff, replacing the General Headquarters 
contemplated in the plans of 1939 and partially aaivated in 1940 and 1S>41.*' 
Below the War Department, the command and administration of Army 
ground forces in the United States were exercised through nine corps area 
headquarters, and (after 1 July 1939) four department headquarters of similar 
character contained most of the Army's overseas forces. The continental air 
forces came under the General Headquarters Air Force, established in 1935, 
and the continental ground forces for certain purposes were under four army 
headquarters, which were designed to become command headquarters in time 
of war."' 

The adoption of a new policy of hemisphere defense did not change the 
Army's basic mission of protecting the continental United States against mil- 
itary attack. Col. Frank S. Clark, a coarchitect of the Rainbow plans and 
principal Army planner, emphasized this point in early 1940 when he wrote: 
"The primary and inescapable requisite in our Doctrine for the condua of 
any war is the necessity that wherever and whatever operations may be in- 

Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 64-69. 
" On the War Plans Division, see Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations 
Division, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington: 1951) (hereafter cited 
as Washington Command Post) ; on General Headquarters, see Kent R. Greenfield and Robert R. 
Palmer, "Origins of the Army Ground Forces: General Headquarters, United States Army, 1940- 
42," in The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD 
WAR II (Washington: 1947). 

The organization and prewar defense preparations of the Army's continental forces are dealt 
with in detail in Chapters I and II of the second volume of this subseries (now in preparation). 
Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Out- 
posts, (hereafter cited as Guarding the United States). 



dicated, no commitment of our armed forces shall be permitted to impair the 
defensive security of the continental United States." Because the mobility 
of the United States Fleet between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was a 
cornerstone of continental defense plans, the Army considered its mission of 
guarding the Panama Canal as secondary only to continental defense. In 
surveying the situation in 1939, Army and Navy planners decided that the 
continental United States and the Canal Zone could only be subjected to in- 
vasion or large-scale surface attack if such an attack was backed by airpower. 
Airpower in strength could not be projected directly across the oceans, but 
it could be launched from land bases within the Western Hemisphere. There- 
fore, the primary objective of the hemisphere defense policy, from the Army's 
point of view, was to prevent the establishment of any hostile air base in the 
Western Hemisphere from which the continental area or the Panama Canal 
might be bombed or from which a surface attack or invasion might be 

Between 1935 and 1938, before the adoption of the new hemisphere de- 
fense policy, the Army had been materially strengthened both in numbers 
and equipment in comparison with its situation during the early depression 
years. In active strength it numbered 189,867 individuals in military service 
on 30 June 1939-'* During June Congress appropriated funds to enable the 
Army to increase its enlisted strength during the following fiscal year to 
210,000, a figure that became the "authorized strength" of the Regular Army 
after 1 July. As of June 1939, the Army's mobile ground combat forces in 
the continental United States numbered about 82,000 and included four par- 
tially filled infantry divisions, two small cavalry divisions, six separate bri- 
gades "in various states of completion," and only a few specialized supporting 
units. Although these "field forces" were theoretically available for deploy- 
ment to meet any threatened attack, the Army in fact did not have a single 
division among its continental forces ready for immediate action.^' 

The major Army overseas garrisons, in the summer of 1939, were the 
Hawaiian (21,475), Panama Canal (13,451), and Philippine (10,920) Depart- 
ments. The principal ground combat units overseas were the Hawaiian Divi- 
sion guarding the island of Oahu, the Philippine Division in the Far East, 
and two infantry and two artillery regiments in the Panama Canal Zone. The 
new department activated in Puerto Rico on 1 July had an initial strength of 

" Draft study, a.d. (but about Feb 40), OPD Exec 4, Item 5. 
Aaaual Report of the Secretary of War, 1939, p. 56. 

Ibid., p. 35; Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1939 to 
June 30, 1941, to the Secretary of War, Chart 1. 



less than 1,000; Alaska, attached to the Ninth Corps Area, had less than 500. 
In theory, the Alaska-Hawaii-Panama-Puerto Rico line constituted the 
Army's "outpost" line for the defense of the "main position," the continental 
United States."*" The direct primary mission of these outposts was the pro- 
tection of naval bases and other installations — most notably, of course, the 
Panama Canal— needed to maintain the Navy's freedom of action. 

Before 1939 the Army had developed basic plans for expanding its forces 
if war threatened. Its principal reserves in 1939 were the National Guard, 
numbering approximately 200,000, and the Officers' Reserve Corps, which 
had a strength of about 110,000. The first stage in expansion called for the 
creation of an Initial Protective Force of 400,000, to be obtained by induct- 
ing the National Guard into federal service. The Army had the immediate 
supply goal in early 1939 of accumulating all types of munitions for the Ini- 
tial Protective Force and of acquiring reserves of critical (that is, noncom- 
mercial) items for the larger mobilization contemplated in what was called 
the Protective Mobilization Plan. Under this plan, the initial force would be 
increased to a strength of 1,000,000. 

Until 1939 basic strategic plans for guarding the continental area in an 
emergency provided for concentrating most of the mobile combat units in 
the United States into strategic reserves and seacoast defense forces of ap- 
proximately equal strengths. These strategic plans were designed, as a War 
Department memorandum of October 1938 put it, to "avoid the fatal error 
of distributing our limited forces in a weak cordon along all our frontiers" 
and to "maintain the maximum concentration of forces for effective defensive 
operations in the area where the major hostile threat develops.'"" The hem- 
isphere defense plans of 1939 and after also contemplated building up a stra- 
tegic reserve of ground and air forces in the United States; but, instead of 
employing a large portion of the mobile forces for defense of continental 
coastal and land frontiers, the Army now planned to send them out in ex- 
peditionary forces as necessary to guard the hemisphere as a whole. This 
amounted to an extension of the main military position from continental to 
hemisphere frontiers. The principle of concentrating as many forces as pos- 
sible in a strategic reserve was to be applied between 1939 and 1941 with 
particular rigor to the air forces, the first Army element to expand under the 
impetus of the new hemisphere policy. 

Before President Roosevelt presented his recommendations for strength- 
ening the Army's air arm to Congress in January 1939, he agreed (with con- 

Annual Report of the Secretary of War, 1939, pp. 35, 52. 
"I OCS Memo, 27 Oct 38, WPD 1956-54. 



siderable reluctance) to a much more modest figure than the 10,000-plane 
goal he had previously advocated. Accordingly, he requested a $300,000,000 
appropriation to provide at least 3,000 more planes for the Army. Congress 
in its enabling and appropriations acts of April and June 1939 provided the 
authorization and funds to permit the Army to embark on an expansion of 
its air arm to be completed by midsummer of 1941. This first "hemisphere 
defense" air program provided for an initial doubling of Air Corps personnel 
strength and an eventual airplane strength of 5,500 (including 3,300 combat 
planes), and for the replacement of most of the existing equipment. At the 
time (June 1939), the Air Corps had about 1,700 planes. Actually, many 
months were to elapse before the air arm received much strengthening in 
equipment. At the end of 1939, its airplane strength was only 1,800; and by 
the following May, the Air Corps had received only 1,350 new planes."*^ By 
then, too, the national policy of sharing airplane production with Great Brit- 
ain and France was in full swing and was threatening to delay the comple- 
tion of the Army's own air program on schedule. 

While the new air program was taking shape, the War Department in 
March 1939 appointed an Air Board to consider the means by which the Air 
Corps should carry out its enlarged mission. The board, headed by General 
Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps, completed its labors in late June. It recom- 
mended the addition of four new major air bases to the eight already in 
existence, the deployment as soon as they were available of about 2,000 com- 
bat planes in tactical units at home and overseas (with about 1,300 more in 
reserve), and an Air Corps personnel strength of 49,000.*' For the continen- 
tal United States, the Air Board proposed the establishment of new major 
air bases in the northeast and southeast to bolster the air defense of the en- 
tire Atlantic seaboard of the United States and Canada. The northeast air 
base — Westover Field, subsequently provided near Holyoke, Massachusetts- 
would permit long-range patrol and bombardment action to prevent the es- 
tablishment of hostile air bases in eastern Canada and Newfoundland. The 
southeast air base— MacDill Field, established later near Tampa, Florida- 
would permit the projection of Army air power to the eastern Caribbean and 

President's message to Congress, 21 Jajr39, U.S. Dept of State, Peace and War, pp. 451-54; 
WPD Aide-Memoire, 6 May 39, WPD 3807-31; Memo, WPD for Col Laurence Watts, 8 Jan 40, 
WPD 3807-48; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 473-74; Wesley Frank Craven 
and James Lee Cate, eds.. The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. I, Plans and Early Oper- 
ations — January 1939 to August 1942 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1948) (here- 
after cited as AAF I ), pp. 104ff. 

Various papers, dated March-June 1939, WPD 3748-17; WPD Aide-Memoire, 6 May 39, 
WPD 3807-31. 


provide the third comet, with Panama and PuettQ.JU^^,i«;?t ftKiatl^^ air 
defense coverage of the yffaolq Caribbean arca.*^ 

rdnfor<sinent of fhe Pittama Canal and Hawaiian Departments and for the 
estabUshment of new major air bases in Alaska and Puerto Rico. The Air 
Sciasd al^ forecast the probable necessity for a major Aimy air base at Natal, 
^ksasQ, y^ M^ofis^^'m^ng h&ses mnnccdn^ the dtml Zone, PuetD^ 
Rico, at)^ ^»t^ Before the board completed its report the new air base for 
Puctt^ jpwi ibcen approved, and the War Department planned to fiir- 
nfeK tt withi motigh long-tange airpower to cover the eastern approaches to 
the Caribbean. Panama, which the War Plans Division described in May as 
"the Keystone in the defense of the Western Hemisphere," was to have the 
greatest overseas air stren^h, with the primary defensive mission of prevent- 
ing the aedal l»ittba»ii]|gftrtil'^t^^.^^ 

Stsiliag the establishment of any hostile ait base in Central !Cfl'J^>t3th America, 
within bombardment range of the Canal Zone. Army airpowcr in Hawaii, 
which War Plans termed "the indispensable bulwark" for the defense of the 
^i£ifie ^d^'w^ td be liuilc tj^'«t» a sttoigtif ^sufficSH^IolAsuec the reten- 
tion of Oahu as a base for the United States Fleet. Alaska, in the 1939 plans, 
was to be provided with a major air base from which the Army could inter- 
dict the establishment of any hostile air base ir. Alaskan territory and also 
cover tHe ii0ftk^.Sitfl^;<Sf'^^^^ Thtssc|!la6^'lf#i3!> 
filled, would give some meaning to the idea of an "Alaska -Hawaii- Panama" 
defensive triangle, a concept that meant Htdc as long as Alaska had no mili- 
tary or naval ctefenses. The plans of 19^9 envisaged no rcin&>rceinent of the 
Render Army sat stiefltgth in the western Pacific 

In prewar theory, the Army's overseas garrisons were supposed to be 
|lil^p#dcd in peacetime with enough forces to deal with any emergency or war 
jj^t^oiii'liU^ in planning the deployment of the new sttengdh to beaectuired' 
.undcr the ait expansion program, the Mi Board had to acknowledge the im- 
possibility of providing each overseas base with enough airpower to meet 
j|ny foreseeable need. Instead, it proposed to pool as much air strength 2s 
po^Me in a central reserve in die continental United States, to keep the air 
strengths at overseas bases at a bare minimum, and to reinforce them from 
the continer^tal reserve in an cxner^en^^.*^ This was a sound ^iQ|9qsalf but 

^ WPD Aiiie-Mimtirv, 16 May ^ 
Report, 26 }m 39, WPD 3748-17. • ' 

*>r«b5F, X, and Y, Air Bd Report, 26Jun 59, WPCfSfftit-ij, 
I!t Air BdR^poOjiSJw WPD 374*^17. 



when Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into war even the key bastion 
of Hawaii had fewer combat planes than the "bare minimum" planned for 
it in 1939."^ 

Though the United States Army in the summer of 1939 was stronger and 
better prepared for action than it had been in the earlier 1930's, it was nu- 
merically far weaker than the army of any other world power. On the other 
hand the United States Navy, somewhat favored over the Army in the initial 
rearmament program, had a strength just below that of Great Britain. While 
Japan's ominous naval expansion was making protection of American inter- 
ests in the Pacific an increasingly formidable task, the Navy in general was 
ready to perform its traditional function of providing the first line of defense 
in a war emergency. Nor can the military power of the United States in 
1939 be reckoned solely in terms of active Army and Navy strengths. Both 
services had partially trained reserve components, and the nation's industrial 
might constituted a tremendous military asset. As World War II was to 
show, the military potential of the United States exceeded that of any other 

Preparedness Measures: April-September 1939 

In 1939 the American defense problem was one of planning to meet any 
immediate threat with existing means, and of expanding those means as rap- 
idly as public sentiment permitted and circumstances required to enable the 
armed forces to execute their new mission of hemisphere defense. The new 
Air Corps program was the first move in this direction. The second was ini- 
tiated about the time that the Joint Planning Committee completed its ex- 
ploratory study of the strategic situation in April 1939, when the Chief of 
Staff instructed his advisers to investigate the methods that the Army should 
employ to improve its state of readiness "in the event that war develops in 
Europe.'"*^ After consulting with the other staff divisions, the War Plans 
Division on 20 April recommended: 

1. An increase of 40,000 in the Regular Army's strength to enable the Army to form 
"a small, balanced striking force immediately available for employment in support of 
our national policy in the Western Hemisphere." 

2. The completion of the procurement of critical items for the forces to be provided 
by the Protective Mobilization Plan. 

The Air Board in June 1939 recommended a minimum strength of 240 bombardment and 
pursuit planes for Hawaii; on the morning of 7 December 1941, there were 233 such planes in 
Hawaii, nearly half of which were obsolete. The 1941 figure is taken from tables presented by 
Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow of the War Plans Division to the Military Commission on 18 De- 
cember 1941. WPD 4268-2. A somewhat lower figure for 1941 strength is given in Craven and 
Gate, AAF /, p. 171. 

Memo, SGS for WPD, 17 Apr 39, WPD 4161. 



3. An increase in the National Guard to full peace strength. 

4. The recruitment of personnel from the Civilian Conservation Corps for the Regu- 
lar Army. 

5. Various additional measures, designed to improve the readiness of the National 
Guard and Reserve components for employment in an emergency. 

War Plans also emphasized the "immediate and vital importance" of carry- 
ing out the first and second of these recommendations.'" A further explora- 
tion of the expeditionary force proposal indicated that with its existing 
strength the Army could organize a mobile striking force of about 44,000, 
built around four streamlined peace-strength infantry divisions. With the 
recommended augmentation of the Regular Army, a force of 63,000 could 
be formed.'" No action was taken on these proposals until August, when the 
civilian and military authorities became convinced of the imminence of war 
in Europe. 

In early August President Roosevelt made a decision concerning the 
United States Marine Corps that had an important bearing on subsequent 
Army preparations for defense. The President directed that the marines be 
withdrawn from Hawaii, the Canal Zone, and "all like places— the Army to 
take them over"— and that henceforth Marine Corps units would be used 
only for emergency occupation forces in such places as Bermuda, Trinidad, 
and Wake Island. Since the marines were thus designated the prime expedi- 
tionary force, the Army was required thereafter to give them top priority in 
the supply of certain types of Army equipment and ammunition." 

With the President and Secretary of State both on vacation. Acting Sec- 
retary of State Welles called an interdepartmental meeting on 17 August, at 
which he announced, "the European situation is now so bad that I think we 
ought to be ready for the worst." This was the signal for the Army to set 
in motion a series of "Immediate Action Measures," already drafted and based 
to a large extent on the proposals made the preceding April. By 21 August 
the Army had decided what should be done as soon as the European war 
began. It wanted to increase the Regular Army to an enlisted strength of 
280,000 (the full peacetime strength prescribed by the National Defense Aa 
of 1920), to recruit the National Guard to full peacetime strength (also 
280,000 enlisted) and double its training hours, to procure as rapidly as pos- 
sible all of the items of equipment and munitions needed for the Protective 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Apr 39, WPD 4161. 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 1 May 39, WPD 4161-1. 

Memo, Brig Gen George C. Marshall for Brig Gen George V. Strong, WPD, 5 Aug 39. 
The copy of this memo is designated OCS 21081, but it is aaually filed in OCS 15758-42. 

Alsop and Kintner, American V^hite Paper, p. 55; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isola- 
tion, p. 186. 



Mobilization Plan force, and to reinforce overseas garrisons and speed up 
their current construction programs. In transmitting these proposals to the 
President, Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring explained, "the purpose of 
the measures as a whole is to place the Regular Army and the National Guard 
in a condition of preparedness suitable to the present disturbed world situa- 
tion." "They do not," he added, "contemplate mobilization at this time but 
proceed only to the extent of completing its most important features." " 

In the early morning hours of 1 September 1939, the Army flashed word 
to its commanding generals at home and overseas that fighting had begun on 
the Polish border. Four days later. General George C Marshall, the new Chief 
of Staff, announced that the President had approved an immediate increase 
in the Regular Army to the "National Defense" strength of 280,000— an 
announcement that proved premature, for the President actually confined his 
approval to a more modest increase that raised authorized enlisted strength 
to 227,000.'^ The President also authorized a National Guard increase to 
233,000 enlisted strength, and his proclamation of a limited emergency on 
8 September allowed the War Department to step up both the armory and 
the field training of the Guard." 

Immediately after the war began, the Army made a variety of other moves 
to cope with possible emergencies. The Chief of Staff on 3 September con- 
firmed the reinforcement of the overseas garrisons; air reinforcements for the 
Canal Zone had already departed, and ground units for this and other over- 
seas outposts followed as rapidly as transportation could be provided."^ The 
commanding general of the Panama Canal Department was placed in charge 
of all Army activities— civilian as well as military— in the Canal Zone." On 
instruction from the President, the Chief of Staff notified the Chief of Naval 
Operations that arrangements had been made for Army Air Corps reconnais- 
sance and bombardment planes to be available on call to the Navy to assist 

" Memo, Actg DCofS for WPD, 18 Aug 39; Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Aug 39. Both in 

WPD 4191. Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Aug 39, WPD 4191-1; Memo, SW for President, 

Aug 39, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. By mischance, no copy of this latter memorandum was kept 
in Army records. There is also a binder in the OCS files (Emergency Measures, 1939-40, Binder 
1) that presents these proposals in chart form. 

5'' Memo, OCS for CofS et al, 1 Sep 39, WPD 4191; OCS Memo for Record, 5 Sep 39, WPD 
4191-8. Despite the increase previously authorized in June, the Regular Army did not start to 
grow beyond its 30 June strength until September, and it did not attain the newly authorized 
strength until February 1940. Annual Report of the Secretary of War, 1940, Table C, opposite 
p. 31. 

" Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1939 to June 30, 
1941, to the Secretary of War, p. 2. 

Correspondence in WPD 4191-3, WPD 4191-4, and WPD 4191-5. 
" EO 8732, 5 Sep 39. 



in offshore defense of the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts.'^ The War De- 
partment directed the commanding general of the Sixth Corps Area to begin 
a military guard of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and its locks, and within a 
week a number of defensive measures were in effea there." All corps area 
commanders were told to prepare plans for troop protection of industries en- 
gaged in military production.*" The beginning of a general European war, 
as these measures testify, had the effect of alerting the Army on many fronts. 

The Army's "Immediate Action Measures" were but one phase of a broad 
program charted by President Roosevelt and his advisers on the eve of the 
European war. The fundamental objective set for national policy was to keep 
the United States out of the war. In order to achieve that objective, the United 
States had to keep the war out of the Western Hemisphere.''' But in addi- 
tion the administration also wished to buttress the military power of Great 
Britain and France. Should the democracies of western Europe be defeated, 
the President and his aides foresaw an inevitable conflict between the United 
States and dominant European and Asiatic dictatorships. The President's 
greatest initial concern was, therefore, to secure a revision of the existing neu- 
trality acts. After a hard struggle, Congress passed a new neutrality law on 
4 November 1939, which permitted Great Britain and France (as well as any 
other belligerent) to obtain American arms on a "cash and carry" basis. 

During August the President in consultation with the Department of State 
had decided upon more positive measures for keeping a European war away 
from the Americas. As soon as the war began, the United States would call 
a conference of the American republics to confirm the front of "continental 
solidarity" agreed upon at Lima the preceding December. The President also 
planned to institute an offshore patrol by the United States Navy designed, 
as he told Assistant Secraary of State Berle in late August, "to prevent an 
attack on any European colony in the New World, all the way from Canada 
to Guiana." He proposed to warn European belligerents to keep their war- 
ships on the other side of the Atlantic and, if they failed to do so, "he would 
then direct the Navy to make sure that no vessel came on this side of the 
Atlantic." When news of the German attack on Poland reached the Presi- 

'» Ltr, CofS to CNO, 9 Sep 39, WPD 4191-12. 

" Telg, TAG to CG Sixth Corps Area, 2 Sep 39; Ltr, CG Sixth Corps Area to TAG, 7 Sep 39. 
Both in AG 821 (9-1-39). 

Memo, Chief Counter Intelligence Br G-2 for TAG, 2 Sep 39, AG 381 (8-24-39), Sec. 1. 

President's Fireside Chat, 3 September 1939, The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin 
D. Roosevelt, compiled by Samuel I. Rosenman, 1939 volume: V^ar — and Neutrality (New York: 
The Macmillan Company, 1941) (hereafter cited as FDR Public Papers and Addresses, lSii9), pp. 

"^^ Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 208, citing Diary of Adolf A. Berle, entry of 
26 Aug 39. 



dent, he immediately instructed the State and Navy Departments to arrange 
for a Pan-American gathering and to establish the neutrality patrol. The pa- 
trol was to operate in a neutrality zone, within limits to be approved at the 
conference. President Roosevelt himself decided on 3 September that the zone 
should extend approximately three hundred miles seaward from the Ameri- 
can continents.''' 

Immediately after Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on 
3 September, invitations were dispatched to the Latin American nations for 
a conference to be held in Panama. The Panama Conference opened on 
23 September, with Under Secretary of State Welles heading the United States 
delegation. Before its adjournment on 3 October, the conference adopted res- 
olutions embodying principles of neutrality and provisions for inter- American 
political and economic co-operation that were completely satisfactory to the 
United States. Resolution XIV, usually known as the Declaration of Panama, 
provided for the establishment of the Neutrality Zone, from which all bel- 
ligerent warships were to be excluded, extending about three hundred miles 
seaward from the Canadian- American boundary in the Atlantic, around North 
and South America to the Canadian- American boundary in the Pacific. Each 
nation was authorized to patrol waters adjacent to its own coast to secure 
compliance with this resolution. The conference also established inter- 
American neutrality and economic committees. Both committees began their 
sessions in the fall of 1939 and made it their business to help maintain the 
common policies on neutrality agreed upon at the conference and to consider 
the economic problems that war in Europe was certain to bring, especially 
to Latin America. The final resolution adopted at the Panama Conference 
paved the way for a conference at Havana in July 1940. It provided "that in 
case any geographic region of America subject to the jurisdiction of any non- 
American state should be obliged to change its sovereignty and there should 
result therefrom a danger to the security of the American Continent, a con- 
sultative meeting such as the one now being held will be convoked with the 
urgency that the case may require.'"''' 

While the Army had no direct hand in convening the Panama Confer- 
ence, its spirit and actions were of vital importance to the development of 
closer military relations with Latin America. The cordial agreement among 
the American republics at Panama also indicated the probability of their co- 

Alsop and Kintner, American White Paper, pp. 60-69. 

Documents on American Foreign Relations, July 1939-June 1940, S. Shepard Jones and Denys 
P. Myers, eds. (Boston: World Peace Foundation, 1940), II, 108. The other resolutions adopted 
are also included in this volume. See also, Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 206- 
18; and Alsop and Kintner, Ameriran White Paper, pp. 68-73. 



operation in emergency military measures deemed necessary by the United 
States in carrying out its plans for hemisphere defense. The conference's crea- 
tion of the Neutrality Zone was less successful. Only the United States had 
the naval strength to carry out an effective patrol in waters adjacent to its 
coasts. The British naval operations that led to the self-destruction of the 
German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in Uruguayan waters in De- 
cember 1939 highlighted the ineffectual character of the Neutrality Zone 
around South America. In 1940 the United States abandoned the idea of a 
specifically limited neutrality zone and adopted instead a policy of patrolling 
Atlantic waters as far out to sea as circumstances of the moment dictated. 
Under this revised policy the United States extended its patrolling to the 
mid-Atlantic in 1941.'*' 

The Navy's neutrality patrol of the Atlantic coast went into action in 
early September 1939. The President himself helped Admiral Stark draft the 
initial operations plan on 3 September. By mid-October the Navy was op- 
erating a continuous patrol about two hundred miles olFshore from New- 
foundland to the Guianas. As its means increased, the Navy extended its 
patrol outward toward the 60th meridian of longitude and well beyond the 
three-hundred-mile limit; by January 1940 a patrol force operating out of 
Norfolk was covering western Atlantic waters as far east as Bermuda. To 
strengthen the patrol, the President ordered the overhaul of forty World 
War I destroyers— the beginning of a reconditioning program that was to 
make fifty of these vessels available in time for the destroyer- base exchange 
with Britain in 1S)40. By early December the forty destroyers were all engaged 
in the Atlantic patrol. The Navy conducted a patrol inside the Caribbean 
Sea and Gulf of Mexico as well as on the ocean, the Department of State in 
certain cases arranging for "collective patrolling" with the Latin American 
nations concerned. The effectiveness of the patrol was limited in part by the 
relatively meager naval strength then available in the Atlantic; it was also 
limited by the fact that patrol vessels were authorized only to report the lo- 
cation of belligerent warships or suspicious vessels and to keep track of them. 
The President on 9 October 1939 ordered the Navy to broadcast reports of 
sightings in plain English, a step that probably helped to persuade the Ger- 
man Navy to keep its submarines and surface raiders out of the western 
North Atlantic during the early months of the war. The Atlantic patrol con- 
tinued in varying forms in 19AO and 1941 and was increasingly extended with 
the acquisition and development of the British bases and with the heighten- 
ing tension of the Battle of the Atlantic. After the establishment of the At- 

Hull, Memoirs, I, 690-92. 



bntic Fleet in February 1941, the Navy prepared to play a more active role 
in that contest.'^'^ 

The naval patrol of Atlantic waters was not the only measure taken to 
keep belligerent action away from hemisphere shores. As an additional pre- 
caution, the President instructed the Department of State to maintain close 
surveillance over belligerent merchant vessels in Latin American ports and 
to report any suspicious movement or activity to the Navy. In practice, this 
surveillance seems to have amounted to a close watch on the seventy-five 
German merchant vessels caught in Western Hemisphere ports at the out- 
break of war. The purpose, presumably, was to prevent these ships from ren- 
dering aid to German naval vessels in western Atlantic waters.'^^ 

The Strategic Outlook: Autumn and Winter, 1939-40 

While the outbreak of war had the effect of initiating a variety of pre- 
paredness measures, the sequence of events in the late summer and fall of 
1939 seemed to lessen the imminence of a military threat to the United 
States and other portions of the Western Hemisphere. In the first place, and 
contrary to the basic assumption of Rainbow 1, Great Britain and France 
had accepted Hitler's challenge by declaring war. The British and French 
Navies now barred a Nazi move by sea against western Africa or South 
America; and Canada's declaration of war on 10 September put the north- 
eastern front of the hemisphere on the alert. Secondly, after Germany's quick 
triumph over Poland, the European war settled into a lull that remained un- 
broken until April 1940. Pending a showdown between Germany and Anglo- 
French military power, there could be no real threat to the Americas. 
Finally, the Soviet-German pact of August 1939 had considerably reduced 
the chances of an early clash between Japan and the United States in the 
Pacific. With the Soviet Union freed for the moment from involvement in 
the European war, the Japanese were plainly frightened by the prospect of 
a Soviet attack in the Far East. While not restricting their aims and actions 

^' Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. I, 
The Battle of the Atlantic, SepterrAer 1939-May 1943 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1947) 
(hereafter cited as Battle of the Atlantic), pp. 13-16; Alsop and Kintner, American White Paper, 
p. 70; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 215. Various memos in Roosevelt Papers, 
FDRL, especially Memo, President for Actg SN Charles Edison, 9 Oct 39. In at least one in- 
stance, Army aircraft collaborated with the Navy in patrolling the coast of Mexico outside its ter- 
ritorial waters. Memo, OCS for CofS, 2 Nov 39, OCS 20218-47. For 1941 developments, see 
ICh. Vl below. 

Memo, Under Secy State Welles for President, 4 Nov 39; Memo, President for Welles, 9 
Nov 39; and Memo, Welles for President, 16 Nov 39. All in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



against China, for the time being the Japanese adopted a policy of strict neu- 
trality toward the European war and a more circumspect attitude toward the 
Far Eastern interests of the Western Powers/^ The general effect of these 
developments was to slow down the tempo of the Army's defense plans and 
preparations in the fall and winter of 1939 and 1940. 

During that period the sympathies of the great majority of the American 
people were unquestionably with Great Britain and France. But even more 
evidently, the public wanted to avoid direct participation in a European war. 
President Roosevelt and his advisers had the same goal. Sometime during 
September 1939, when the President was shown a draft of one long-range 
scheme for military expansion, he is reported to have said: "Whatever hap- 
pens, we won't send troops abroad; we need only think of defending this 
hemisphere."^' The President and his aides likewise foresaw that no serious 
threat to the Western Hemisphere could arise unless the British and French 
were pushed to the brink of defeat. In that event the United States would be 
faced with the grim choice either of supporting Great Britain and France, 
"as our outlying defense outposts," or of vastly increasing American naval 
power to "meet the ultimate issue between us and a Russo-German Europe 
bent on dominating the world, somewhere in the Middle Atlantic." '° In an 
informal discussion on 19 September, the President and Assistant Secretary 
of State Berle 

. . . ranged the globe, forecasting the division of Eastern Europe between Germany and 
Russia, wondering whether Western Asia was also to be divided, and guessing at the 
chance of an ultimate German foothold in the Atlantic. Both thought that if Germany 
won the war, Hitler would try to get his hands on the Azores or Cape Verde Islands, as 
bases for operations against the Americas. But both agreed that the war's main danger to 
this country lay in the alternative prospects of post-war economic chaos or a world econ- 
omy dominated by the dictatorships." 

No evidence has yet been uncovered of an actual German plan in 1939 for 
military expansion toward the Americas, though some Nazi leaders talked 
vaguely about the ultimate clash that might follow a German triumph in 
Europe. Pending that triumph, German interest coincided with American 
opinion in seeking to keep the United States officially neutral toward the 
European war.^^ 

On the third point, see Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 29lS. 
" Alsop and Kintner, American White Paper, p. 65. 

Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 203, citing entry in Berle Diary after confer- 
ence on 3 September. 

" Als op and K intner, American White Paper, p. 74. 
'2 See |Ch. lllj below. 



Army planners also recognized in late 1939 that no major threat to the 
Western Hemisphere was likely under the existing situation. As a War 
Plans Division strategic study of December 1939 put it, "as long as major 
wars continue in Europe and Asia, this hemisphere is in very little, if any, 
danger of attack." But, the authors of the study hastened to add, "experience 
has shown how quickly a situation can change and the impossibility of pre- 
paring for a new situation after it has developed." The most adverse change 
in the situation foreseeable would be the defeat of Great Britain and France. 
If they were defeated, a major hostile force might be able to gain a toehold 
somewhere along the Atlantic coast of North or South America. "The pre- 
vention of the establishment of major hostile forces," the study concluded, 
"will be far less difficult than their expulsion when established, and . . . our 
efforts should be directed toward such prevention,"" 

Colonel Clark of the War Plans Division in October 1939 wrote a pene- 
trating analysis of the possible consequences of an Anglo-French defeat. He 
noted that, with the destruction of Anglo-French naval forces or their sur- 
render to Germany, the United States would in time be faced with an ex- 
tremely menacing situation, threatened by Japanese naval power in the Pacific 
and by German naval superiority in the Atlantic. Since it did not seem prob- 
able that Germany could win such an overwhelming victory without tem- 
porarily exhausting its military power, a considerable time would elapse 
before the Germans could launch a major attack across the Atlantic. In the 
meantime, they would undoubtedly step up their activity in Latin America. 
They might attempt to pave the way for later direct action by first overthrow- 
ing governments friendly to the United States. In any event, the United States 
would have to resist every effort that Germany might make to acquire Brit- 
ish or French possessions in the New World. Colonel Clark also foresaw the 
possibility of a German attempt to block the Panama Canal by sabotage or 
air bombardment while the bulk of the United States Fleet was in the Pa- 
cific, but he considered this an unlikely development unless Japan acted in 
concert with Germany in launching an attack. He ended his analysis with 
the observation that any estimate based upon a common-sense evaluation 
of the prospective strategic situation might very well be meaningless. "The 
outstanding menace to civilization today," wrote Colonel Clark, "is the fact 
that the human and physical resources of the German state are being con- 
trolled by Hitler and a small group of equally unscrupulous and abnormal 
associates, activated almost entirely by the purpose of increasing and perpet- 

" Tab B, par 9, Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 39, WPD 3807-41. 



uating their own personal power." This being so, Hitler might very well 
launch an attack on the New World "in disregard of the demonstrable best 
interest of the German nation." 

Both Japan and Germany had the physical means in 1939 to launch air 
attacks against the Western Hemisphere. Japan had eight aircraft carriers, 
built or building, from which it could launch hit-and-run attacks on Ameri- 
can positions in the Pacific. The War Plans Division believed that an attack 
of this sort was highly improbable so long as the bulk of the United States 
Fleet was in the Pacific. Germany lacked carriers, but it was believed to have 
a large bomber force capable of spanning the South Atlantic from African 
bases to the Natal area of Brazil. In re-estimating the Army's requirements 
for airpower in December 1939, the War Plans Division based its calcula- 
tions on the air strength that would be needed to drive the Germans out of 
an established Brazilian base. If the Army Air Corps had enough tactical 
strength to accomplish this mission, it would also have more than enough 
to carry out other hemisphere defense missions (though of course not simul- 
taneously), "such as meeting a possible Japanese attempt to land in Hawaii, 
or a threat based on the Maritime Provinces" of Canada. These calculations 
led to the conclusion that hemisphere defense needs could be met by increas- 
ing the planned combat strength of the Air Corps from 3,300 to 3,741 

During the fall and winter of 1939-40, the Army continued to work on 
plans for mobilization and for the deployment of ground and air forces to 
guard the hemisphere against military attack. Though not yet authorized, 
the Army based its plans on the assumption that it would have a Regular 
enlisted strength of 280,000 at its disposal when an emergency arose. The 
detailed plans provided for three expeditionary or "task" forces: No. 1, a re- 
inforced infantry division to be available for dispatch to the Natal area of 
Brazil; No. 2, a similar division for the west coast of South America; and 
No. 3, a reinforced corps (one cavalry and three infantry divisions) as a gen- 
eral expeditionary force reserve. Supporting air units were earmarked to ac- 
company each of the forces. The three forces combined would require only 
57,000 enlisted strength for both ground and air units, since the units con- 
cerned were to be at peace strength and not at war strength. A war situation 
that required the full application of Rainbow 1 and its subordinate Army 

WPD study, 30 Oct }9, title: Analysis of the Effect on the Security of the United States of 
the Defeat of Great Britain and France in the Present War, WPD 3793-80. 

" Tab 1, WPD study, Oct 39, WPD 4078-3; Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 39 and atchd 
Tabs B and C, WPD 3807-41. 



and Navy plans would lead to a general mobilization under the Protective 
Mobilization Plan, which would provide a 1,000,000-man army. The 1939 
plans called for a general mobilization only if Great Britain and France 
were defeated.^* 

For the same reasons that had slowed down the tempo of Army plans 
and preparations, American public and Congressional opinion became in- 
creasingly complacent toward the dangers inherent in the world situation. As 
the apparent military stalemate in western Europe continued into 1940, Con- 
gress was in no mood to approve further increases in military strength be- 
yond those authorized in 1939- Indeed, General Marshall feared that the 
Army might be required to curtail its expansion considerably short of the 
planned "National Defense" strength of 280,000; similarly, he believed that 
there was no hope of securing a projected increase of the National Guard to 
an enlisted strength of 320,000, and in March 1940 felt obliged to shelve the 
proposal for obtaining an authorization of this move." What the Army could 
do was mold a larger proportion of its existing strength into ground units 
ready for action. New divisions were organized, including the nuclei of two 
armored divisions. This reorganization progressed to the point where the 
Army could plan for corps and army maneuvers in the spring of 1940 in- 
volving the assembly of 70,000 troops. But the Chief of Staff was even more 
interested in obtaining Congressional authorization for purchase of reserves 
of guns and ammunition for the larger Army that a worsening of the war 
situation would certainly require. During February 1940, in testimony before 
the House Appropriations Committee, he said: "If Europe blazes in the late 
spring or summer, we must put our house in order before the sparks reach 
the Western Hemisphere . . . [and] prepare ourselves against the possibility 
of chaotic world conditions." These were prophetic words in the light of 
events soon to occur. 

Statements based on various WPD papers, including: Table 2, atchd to WPD study, 1 Nov 
39, WPD 4175-2; WPD Interoffice Memo, — Nov 39, WPD 3674-20; Memo, WPD for G-1, 
G-2, G-3, and G-4, 2 Feb 40, WPD 4175-11. 

" The staff study on the possible reduction of the Army is in WPD 3674-24; the plan for the 
increase in the National Guard, and its shelving in March 1940, is in WPD 3674-18. 

Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 19i9 to June 30, 
1941, to the Secretary of War, p. 3; Frye, Marshall: Citizen Soldier, p. 273. 


The Crisis of 1940 

Germany broke the spell of the "phony war" on 9 April 1940 by invad- 
ing Denmark and Norway. The United States by then had only partially 
completed its preparations under plans drafted in 1939 for maintaining Ameri- 
can neutrality and at the same time forestalling military attack on the West- 
ern Hemisphere. In Rainbow 1, the Army and Navy had an approved plan 
for hemisphere defense, but the ground forces and, even more seriously, the 
air forces pf the Army were still considerably below the strength needed to 
execute/missions under the plan. American naval power was concentrated in 
the Pacific with only enough vessels in the Atlantic to maintain the neu- 
trality patrol, because the United States since September 1939 had counted 
on British and French naval power to provide the bulwark against any Ger- 
man thrust across the Atlantic. Assisted by the neutrality act of November 
1939, the administration was encouraging the British and French to make 
"cash and carry" purchases of American arms, with the primary objective of 
building up a balance of military power in western Europe that would mini- 
mize the chances of involving the United States in the war. 

On the eve of the Scandinavian operations, it seemed to the Army and 
Navy planning staffs that Great Britain and France were catching up with 
the military might of Germany and consequently that the danger of Ameri- 
can military involvement was less in the Atlantic area than in the Pacific. 
The Joint Planning Committee on 9 April therefore recommended to the 
Joint Board that priority be given to preparation of basic and supplementary 
plans to meet Rainbow 2 and 3 situations, leaving 4 to the last. Plans 2 
and 3 dealt with situations that assumed major United States operations in 
the Pacific against Japan on the one hand and a more or less stabilized mili- 
tary situation in Europe on the other. The planners apparently considered 
a Rainbow 4 situation— the "last ditch" hemisphere defense concept (the 
New World threatened by simultaneous attacks by Japan, Germany, and 
Italy, following the defeat of Great Britain and France)— the least likely to 
ensue. The Joint Board approved the planners' recommendations on 10 April, 
and its directive governed the work of the planning staffs until mid-May.' 

' JB 325, sers-642 and 642-1; Kittredge MS, Ch. 8, App. A, pp. 133-37. 



The Defeat of France and Repercussions in America 

Hitler loosed the full power of the German military machine against the 
West on 10 May 1940. When interviewed that day by newsmen, the Presi- 
dent was no longer willing to say, as he had the preceding September, that 
he thought the United States could keep out of the war. Instead, he consid- 
ered the chance of involvement to be "speculative." ^ Four days later the 
German Army crashed through the Sedan gap, and the outlook suddenly as- 
sumed an ominous cast for the United States as well as for France and 
Great Britain. 

The British and French realized at once that the German breakthrough 
threatened their imminent defeat on the Continent, and they made immedi- 
ate and urgent appeals to the United States for aid. On 15 May the new British 
Prime Minister, Winston S. Churchill, asked President Roosevelt to turn 
over to Britain thirty-five or more old-type destroyers, several hundred mod- 
ern aircraft, and antiaircraft equipment and ammunition. He also wanted as- 
surances that Great Britain could obtain American steel, and he requested 
that the United States dispatch naval forces to Irish ports and to the Singa- 
pore area. On the same day that the Prime Minister made his requests, he 
pledged that, regardless of what Germany did to England and France, Eng- 
land would never give up as long as he remained a power in public life, "even 
if England . . . burned to the ground." "Why," he added, "the Government 
will move to Canada and take the Fleet and fight on." ' President Roosevelt 
realized that compliance with these British requests would force the United 
States to shift from a policy of neutrality to one of nonbelligerency, if not 
open war. This he was unwilling to approve, though he and his advisers 
fully appreciated the gravity of the situation and prepared to meet it as best 
they could within limitations imposed by the existing military means of the 
United States and the state of public opinion. 

The President and his military advisers in conferences on 16 May agreed 
that, for the time being, the bulk of the United States Fleet should remain 
in the Pacific and, in consequence, that the Army should have primary re- 
sponsibility for air operations in the Atlantic area and along the east coast 
of South America. Should France fall, they anticipated that Germany might 
secure immediate and free access to French African possessions. German air 

2 New York Sun, May 10, 1940. 

' Churchill's pledge was made to Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy and repeated in Kennedy's 
separate message to the Department of State, 15 May 1940, quoted in Langer and Gleason, Chal- 
lenge to Isolation, p. 482. His message to the President is printed in his volume, The Second 
World War, Vol. II, Their Finest Hour (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1949) (hereafter 
cited as Their Finest Hour), pp. 24-25. 



forces would then be in a position to launch a direct attack on South Amer- 
ica, and should Germany also acquire the British and French Fleets it might 
be able to launch a ground force across the South Atlantic as well. In view 
of these alarming prospects, the Department of State hastily made the nec- 
essary arrangements for military staff conversations with the Latin American 
nations in order to plan measures for the common defense, secure the use of 
bases, and obtain other military assistance for operations of United States 

The War Plans Division on 22 May summarized what it termed the "im- 
minently probable complications of today's situation." These it considered 
to be a Nazi-inspired revolution in Brazil, similarly inspired disorders in 
Mexico, Japanese hostilities against the United States in the Far East, a de- 
cisive Allied defeat in Europe followed by German aggression against the 
Western Hemisphere, or "all combined." The Army planners noted that the 
United States had vital interests in the Far East, in Europe, and in Latin 
America; but with its existing armed strength the United States could not 
then undertake decisive military action either in Europe or in the Far East. 
They therefore concluded that, for at least a year, the United States Army and 
Navy would have to limit their activities to "offensive-defensive operations 
in South America in defense of the Western Hemisphere and of our own 
vital interests; . . . possible preventive occupation of European possessions in 
the Western Hemisphere; and the defense of the continental United States 
and its overseas possessions East of the 180th Meridian." Given these assump- 
tions and conclusions, the Army planners held that it was essential for the 
President and his advisers to decide "what we are not going to do" and "what 
we must prepare to do." ' On 22 and 23 May General Marshall discussed 
this War Plans summary with the President, with Admiral Stark, and with 
Under Secretary of State Welles. All agreed to the soundness of its analysis 
and recommendations. "They all felt," the Chief of Staff reported, "that we 
must not become involved with Japan, that we must not concern ourselves 
beyond the 180 Meridian, and that we must concentrate on the South Amer- 
ican situation." 

Since the War Plans Division knew that no Army forces were ready for 
immediate employment in South America, it recommended on 22 May that 

Notes on Conf in OCS, 17 May 40; Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 18 May 40. Both in 
WPD 4115-14. Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 615-16. See |Chapter VIII| be- 
low, for details on the staff conversations begun on 9 June. 
' Memo, WPD for CofS, 22 May 40, WPD 4175-7. 

"Memo, CofS for WPD, 23 May 40; WPD Aide-Memoire, 23 May 40. Both in WPD 



naval vessels be sent to eastern South America to bolster Latin American 
morale and be in position to take emergency action if necessary. The Presi- 
dent and his advisers approved this recommendation on 23 May and arranged 
for a cruiser squadron, with marines aboard, to set out as soon as possible. 
The Navy employed the cruisers Quincy and Wichita, which visited South 
American ports during June.' 

The President and his military advisers were particularly concerned over 
the possibilities of Nazi intervention in Brazil. Prompted in part by reports 
received through the British Admiralty on 24 May that the Nazis might be 
preparing to send an expeditionary force toward Brazil, President Roosevelt 
on the following day directed the Army and Navy to prepare a joint plan 
for sending an American force to forestall any such German move. The plan- 
ning staffs hurriedly prepared a plan, with the code name Pot of Gold, 
over the weekend of 25-27 May. It provided for the emergency movement 
of a large expeditionary force to Brazilian coastal points from Belem to Rio 
de Janeiro and for sending the first ten thousand men by plane to north- 
eastern Brazil as soon as an Axis move or pro- Axis movement occurred. Of 
course the United States Government had no intention of putting the POT 
OF Gold plan into effect either in whole or part except in extreme emer- 
gency and after consultation with Brazil. The services realized only too well 
that its execution would revive Latin American fears of Yankee imperialism; 
the Army, as the War Plans Division had pointed out on 22 May, had no 
units that were really ready for expeditionary force use; the Army Air Corps 
was certainly not equipped to carry out the contemplated air movement, and 
existing airfields on the route to Brazil were wholly inadequate to handle an 
air movement of this sort even if the equipment had been available; finally, 
the plan would have required the transfer of a substantial portion of the 
United States Fleet from the Pacific, a step strongly opposed by the Navy.^ 

Since they did not know the real scope and direction of German inten- 
tions, American military planners in May 1940 had to base their calculations 

' Memo, WPD for CofS, 22 May 10, WFD 4115-15; Ltr, Rear Adm Andrew C. Pickens to 
Adm S tark. Rio de Janeiro, 26 Jun 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. Also references cited in foot- 
Inote 61 above, and Hull, Memoirs, I, 821. 

' Kittredge MS, Ch. 8, pp. 161-62, and notes 29-32; Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, 
pp. 95-96, 106. It is possible that the services prepared the Pot of Gold plan at the President's 
insistence but with no real conviction that its execution might be necessary. On the same day 
that the draft plan was submitted. Admiral Stark wrote a personal letter to Admiral James O. 
Richardson, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, in which he indicated that the maximum 
foreseeable diversion of vessels to the Atlantic would be less than the number that would probably 
be required for the Pot of Gold plan. Pearl Harbor Attack: Hearings Before the Joint Commit- 
tee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, 39 parts (Washington: 1946) (hereafter cited 
as Pearl Harbor Attack), Pt. 14, p. 944. 



on the known capabilities of the German war machine and on the unpre- 
dictability of the Nazi Fuehrer. The course of subsequent events and later 
revelations were to make emergency schemes such as the POT OF Gold plan 
seem somewhat excessive, to say the least. But, as President Roosevelt had 
repeatedly observed since early 1939, the long-range threat was very real, and 
an immediate German victory over Britain as well as France would have 
made it very present. Speaking confidentially to a group of businessmen on 
23 May, the President said that the defeat of France and Britain would elim- 
inate a buffer that for decades had protected the United States and its way 
of life. "The buffer," he continued, "has been the British Fleet and the 
French Army." If they were removed, the American system would be directly 
and immediately menaced by a Nazi-dominated Europe. "And so," he con- 
cluded, "we have to think in terms of [protecting] the Americas more and 
more and infinitely faster."' President Roosevelt's emphasis on the necessity 
of speedy action by the United States reflected the rapid deterioration of the 
Anglo-French military position. By 25 May a German land victory was cer- 
tain. The Belgian Army surrendered on 28 May, and the epic evacuation of 
the British Army from Dunkerque followed immediately. 

The events of May forced a radical change in the schedule adopted on 
10 April for development of the Rainbow plans. About 20 May the Joint 
Planning Committee dropped its work on Rainbow 2 and Rainbow 3 and 
turned to a hurried development of a Rainbow 4 plan. The committee com- 
pleted the draft of a basic joint Rainbow 4 plan on 30 May and submitted 
it to the Joint Board the next day. The board approved the plan on 7 June, 
and six days later the Secretaries of War and Navy transmitted it to Presi- 
dent Roosevelt. On 14 August 1940 the President gave it his formal approval. 
By then, the War and Navy Departments had substantially completed their 
work on subordinate concentration and operations plans."* 

The new joint Rainbow 4 plan was based on assumptions that clearly 
indicated the dire forebodings of Army and Navy officers at the end of May. 
It assumed that, after the defeat of Britain and France, the United States 
would be faced by a hostile German-Italian-Japanese coalition. Its combined 
naval power, bolstered by portions of the British and French Fleets, would 
considerably exceed that of the United States. Japan would proclaim its ab- 
solute hegemony in the Far East, and might seize the Philippines and Guam. 

' Notes, title: Meeting With the Business Advisory Council ... 23 May, Roosevelt Papers, 

'oJB 325, ser 642-4; Kittredge MS, Ch. 8, pp. 163-65; Memo, WPD for Coff, 10 Jun 40, 
WPD 4175-12. See also Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941^2, pp. 11-21, on war plan- 
ning and the development of the situation in May and June 1940. 



Germany and Italy would occupy all British and French territory in Africa, 
and also Iceland. In Latin America, the Germans and Italians would use every 
means to stir antagonism toward the United States, and they might succeed 
in establishing pro-Axis governments in strategically located countries. 
Canada, remaining technically at war with Germany, would occupy New- 
foundland, and the United States would have to join with Canada in the de- 
fense of Newfoundland and Greenland. Nevertheless, a considerable interval 
would probably elapse after the British and French collapse before the United 
States would be drawn openly into war." 

The United States planned to counter these threats initially by occupy- 
ing key British, French, Dutch, and Danish possessions in the Western 
Hemisphere claimed by Germany and Italy as the spoils of war. Thereafter, 
its armed forces must be disposed along the Atlantic front of the hemisphere 
so as to prevent any lodgment by Axis military forces. In the Pacific, every 
effort would have to be made to avoid open hostilities with Japan; if they 
began, the United States should base its defense on Oahu and Alaska. The 
major portion of the United States Fleet would have to be withdrawn from 
the Pacific and concentrated in the Caribbean area. Though the original 
Rainbow 4 concept had contemplated defense of the entire Western Hem- 
isphere, the armed forces of the United States for the time being would have 
to confine their operations to North America and the northern part of South 
America (approximately within Rainbow 1 limits), extending their opera- 
tions southward only as additional forces became available. While maintain- 
ing a defensive position in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, the nation 
would have to increase its military power as rapidly as possible, with the 
eventual objective of limited offensive action.'^ 

In presenting the Rainbow 4 plan to the Joint Board, the Joint Planners 
stressed above all the critical situation that would arise if the main elements 
of the British and French Fleets were surrendered to the Axis Powers. Should 
that happen, Germany and Italy would soon attain a naval strength in the 
Atlantic equal or superior to that of the entire United States Fleet. The plan- 
ners estimated that the Axis nations would require a minimum of six months 
to recondition and man the surrendered vessels. For the United States, they 
pointed out, there would be two critical dates in this process: "The first is 
the date that either the British or French Fleet ceases to function, by reason 

" Brief of Jt A&N Basic War Plan Rajnbow 4, JPC Report, 30 May 40, in Kittredge MS, Ch. 
8, App. A, pp. 144-48; Draft of Rainbow 4 plan submitted by JPC to JB, 31 May 40, JB 325, 
ser 642-4. 



either of destruction or surrender. The second is six months after that 
date. . . . The date of the loss of the British or French Fleets automatically sets the 
date of our mobilization.^^ 

Decisions on National Policy 

With war plans in the making that took into account the new and grave 
turn in the war situation, the services felt the need of obtaining the Presi- 
dent's decision on a number of broad questions of policy in national defense. 
President Roosevelt laid the groundwork for more detailed decisions in an 
address delivered at Charlottesville, Virginia, on 10 June 1940. After affirm- 
ing that "overwhelmingly" the American people had now become "convinced 
that military and naval victory for the gods of force and hate would endan- 
ger the institutions of democracy in the western world," the President an- 
nounced that henceforth the United States would pursue two "obvious and 
simultaneous" courses: "We will extend to the opponents of force the ma- 
terial resources of this nation; and at the same time we will harness and speed 
up the use of those resources in order that we ourselves in the Americas 
may have equipment and training equal to the task of any emergency and 
every defense." As the President subsequently pointed out, in June 1940 
American industry was not yet geared to wartime production, and it would 
take industry time to change from a peace to war status. "To gain that time," 
he wrote, "it was necessary for Great Britain to maintain its defense, for if 
Britain were to fall it was clear that we would have to face the Nazis alone— 
and we were not physically prepared to do so." " In a sense, the President's 
Charlottesville address constituted a public announcement of the impending 
shipment of large quantities of surplus Army stocks to the French and 

On the morning of the day that France sued for an armistice, 17 June, 
General Marshall and three of his principal staff officers met to discuss the 
situation. The Chief of Staff remarked that, among the various possibilities, 
it had occurred to him that Japan and the Soviet Union might suddenly team 

" Ltr, JPC to JB, 31 May 40, JB 325, ser 642-4. Italics in original. 

The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, compiled by Samuel I. Rosenman, 
1940 volume: War—and Aid to Democracies (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941) (here- 
after cited as FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1940), pp. 259-64. 

" Ibid., p. xxiv. 

Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Lend-Lease: Weapon for Victory (New York: The Macmillan Com- 
pany, 1944) (hereafter cited as Lend-Lease), pp. 24-28; Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, 
pp. 309-14; Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940- 
1943, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington: 1955), pp. 32-36. 



up in the Pacific and force the bulk of the United States Fleet to remain there 
to defend the American position. If at the same time the French Fleet were 
surrendered to Germany and Italy, the United States would face an extremely 
serious situation in the South Atlantic. 'The chief of the "War Plans Divi- 
sion, Brig. Gen. George V. Strong, expressed the opinion that Germany 
might strike at eastern South America within sixty days, and that initially 
the Nazis might try to block the Panama Canal by sabotage in order to bot- 
tle up American naval power in the Pacific. General Strong and the chief of 
G-3, Brig. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, recommended that the entire National 
Guard be inducted into federal service at once, so as to provide the troops 
that might be required to deal with the South American situation. At Gen- 
eral Strong's urging the Hawaiian and Panama Canal Departments were 
alerted on this same day against the possibilities of surprise attack and in- 
ternal sabotage.'^ The alarm of 17 June also gave impetus to the garrisoning 
of Alaska, and the initial defense force for the new major base at Anchorage 
arrived there on 27 June.^* 

On the preceding day, 16 June, Army and Navy planning officers had 
collaborated in framing a paper entitled "Decisions as to National Action." 
It posed for the President's decision three possible courses of action for the 
United States: (1) to maintain a strong position in the Pacific; (2) to make 
every effort, including belligerent participation, to sustain Great Britain and 
France; or (3) to concentrate on hemisphere defense in order to "prevent or 
overthrow German or Italian domination or lodgement in the Western Hem- 
isphere." The planners pointed out that if Britain and France were defeated 
in Europe and their fleets escaped across the Atlantic, the United States would 
probably become involved in the war automatically, since only the United 
States possessed the ports and base facilities from which these vessels could 
operate.'^ Before General Marshall and Admiral Stark discussed the paper 
with Under Secretary of State Welles on 17 June, General Strong urgently 
recommended to the Chief of Staff that the third alternative be the one ac- 
cepted. In turn, this would require maintaining a purely defensive position 
in the Pacific and halting the flow of material aid to Great Britain. The 
hemisphere defense policy recommended by General Strong would also involve 

" Memo, Gen Strong for Gen Marshall, 15 Dec 45; Notes on Conf in OCS, 17 Jun 40. Both 
in Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 15, pp. 1908-10, 1929-31. The alert messages of 17 June are in 
AG 381 (6-17-40), and the folio's up papers are in WPD 4322 (Hawaii) and WPD 4326 
(Panama). See Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, Chs. IV and X. 

'» Ltt, CG Fourth Army to CofS, 28 Jun 40, OCS 14943-24. See Conn, Engelman, and Fair- 
child, Guarding the United States, Ch. VII. 

" Memo, Jt Planners for CofS and CNO, l6 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 



. . . an increase in naval strength in the Atlantic— an increase of strength in the Regular 
Army, an early mobilization of the National Guard, a marked increase of production of 
munitions, immediate preparation for protective seizure of key British and French posses- 
sions in the Western Hemisphere, preparation for immediate active military support of 
existing Governments in other American Republics and the furnishing them at the earli- 
est possible date of means of defense on long term credits.^" 

The Joint Planners' paper of 16 June and other recommendations, such 
as those submitted by General Strong, became the ingredients for the major 
policy paper of this critical period— the joint memorandum of the Chief of 
Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations for the President, dated 22 June 
1940 and entitled "Basis for Immediate Decisions Concerning the National 
Defense." General Marshall and Admiral Stark discussed their joint memo- 
randum with President Roosevelt on 24 June, and the President's decisions 
on the points presented were incorporated in a revision of 27 June. As stated 
in the revision, the basic decisions were: first, that if the French Fleet passed 
to German control, the United States would have to maintain the defensive 
in the Pacific and would probably have to move major units of the United 
States Fleet into the Atlantic; and second, that the United States would not 
release any additional military material to Great Britain, except for small 
quantities that might be released if they "would exercise an important effect 
in enabling Great Britain to resist until the first of the year." With respect 
to measures for the defense of the Western Hemisphere, the problems and 
decisions were: 

4. Hemisphere defense may involve the necessity for— 

a. The occupation of British . . . , French, Dutch, and Danish possessions in the 
Western Hemisphere (Atlantic and Pacific), after consultation with . . . the other Ameri- 
can Republics and British Dominions concerned. . . . 

(1) This will be effected in time to prevent cession to Germany by the terms of a 


h. Plans for the occupation of strategic positions in the Caribbean Area and in Cen- 
tral and South America, other than referred to above, when the agreements now under 
negotiation with the other American Republics provide therefor. 

(1) Action in accordance with the plans will be taken in ample time to accomplish 
the purpose. 

c. The employment of armed force by the United States to sustain [that is, support] 
existing governments. 

(1) Decision to take this action will be made as necessity requires. In reaching 
the decision consideration will be given to the fact that until Decemoer 1940 our Army 
will not be in a position to undertake any operations south of the latitude of Venezuela, 
unless mobilization and Selective Service are made immediately effective. . . . 

d. The supply of munitions to Latin American countries. 

(1) It is decided that by providing small amounts of munitions at intervals, the 
urgent requirements of the Latin American countries may be met. Credits will be extended 
for the purchase of munitions. 

2» Memo, Gen Strong for CofS, 17 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 



e. The adjustment of the economic relations between the United States and Latin 
American States. . . . 

(1) Financial arrangements to accomplish this adjustment will be made on the 
basis of accepting the loss as a proper charge against our national defense. 

5. The naval and military operations necessary to assure successful Hemisphere Defense 
call for a major effort which we are not now ready to accomplish. Time is of the essence 
in overcoming our unreadiness. To overcome our disadvantage in time, the concerted effort 
of our whole national life is required. The outstanding demands on this national effort 
zk:— first, a radical speed-up of production, and second, the assembly and training of 
organized manpower.^' 

General Marshall and Admiral Stark on 24 June had also asked the President 
to approve a longer working week for war industry and the immediate adop- 
tion of selective service. The President was loath to approve the former so 
long as there were still large numbers of unemployed; he did approve the 
idea of selective service but urged a system that the Army considered 

An appendix to the joint memorandum of 27 June incorporated a decision 
by the President that "the United States Government . . . considers all is- 
lands in the Pacific east of the International Date Line as parts of the West- 
ern Hemisphere coming under the application of the Monroe Doctrine." To 
prevent the transfer of sovereignty of any of them to Germany, Italy, or Japan, 
the United States was prepared (after consultation with the British, French, 
Australian, and New Zealand Governments) to take possession of all these 
islands except those under New Zealand control. It also would request the 
Australian and New Zealand Governments to take the responsibility for see- 
ing that no British or French islands west of the International Date Line fell 
into Axis or Japanese hands. 

The crucial points in the proposals and decisions made between 22 and 
27 June were those relating to the disposition of the French Navy, to the 
discontinuance of material aid to Britain, and to the necessity for immediate 
and all-out mobilization. Action on these points was bound to be closely 
interrelated. If Germany secured the French Fleet, the United States would 
have to embark at once on full mobilization of its resources and manpower 
for hemisphere defense; therefore, it could not continue to send aid to Brit- 
ain. In addition, the outlook for Great Britain's survival seemed exceedingly 
dubious. In late June, American Army and Navy experts were anticipating 
the probability of a British defeat or negotiated peace before the end of the 
summer. A joint planning paper of 26 June, for example, stated that it was 

" Jt Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 27 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. This copy is marked 
"Final revision." For the earlier version, dated 22 June, and the President's informal comments 
and decisions made on 24 June, see Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 110-13. 

" App. A, Jt Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 27 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 



"doubtful that Great Britain . . . will continue to be an active combatant by 
the fall and winter of 1940." President Roosevelt's decision of 24 June on 
aid to Britain represented a distinct qualification of the pledge he had made 
two weeks earlier in his Charlottesville address. 

The President presumably considered this retreat necessary at least as 
long as the fate of the French Navy remained in doubt. Late in May he had 
warned the French that the United States considered retention of their fleet 
to be vital for the ultimate control of the Atlantic as well as for the eventual 
salvation of France. Before 10 June, both the French and the British repeat- 
edly urged the United States to send strong naval forces to eastern Atlantic 
and Mediterranean waters to deter Italy from entering the war, but until the 
French armistice the United States held firmly to the policy of keeping its 
fleet in the Pacific. What it must do after that depended on what happened 
to the French Navy. On 19 June France's Admiral Francois Darlan gave his 
oath that the French Fleet would not be allowed to fall into German hands 
and that an armistice would be rejected if the Germans made such a demand. 
Continuing, Darlan asserted that if, subsequently, the Germans should 
attempt to seize any ship of the fleet, it would be scuttled by the French.^'' 
The United States Government put little faith in this pledge. Secretary Hull 
later told the French Ambassador that the terms of the armistice "apparently 
threw the entire French fleet directly into German hands." ^' 

The British, who of course were more immediately concerned about what 
happened to the French Navy, had even less faith in Darlan's assurances. On 
3 July the British issued ultimatums to all French naval commanders to put 
their vessels under British control or suffer the consequences. A substantial 
number of French vessels were then berthed in British-controlled ports and 
were taken over without much difficulty. The critical portion of the French 
Fleet not under British control was stationed at Mers-el-Kebir in Algeria, 
and the commander of this force ignored the British ultimatum. Thereupon 
the British attacked, sinking or disabling most of the French ships and caus- 
ing heavy loss of life— an action that produced a bitter breach in relations 
between the British and Vichy Governments. Secretary Hull in his Memoirs 
has written, "this was an action solely between the British and French." '^^ 
It is now known that President Roosevelt discussed and approved the British 

" Report, JPC to CofS and CNO, 26 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 

William L. Langer, Our Vichy Gamble (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), p. 46. 
" Ibid., p. 57. 
" Hull, Memoirs, I, 798. 



plans in advance with the British Ambassador, though apparently without 
the knowledge of the Department of State." 

The action at Mers-el-Kebir settled the French Fleet problem for the 
time being. Germany would not get possession of any significant portion of 
the French Navy, the British would continue to have naval superiority in 
the eastern Atlantic, the United States Fleet could remain in the Pacific as 
a check to Japan, and the Axis Powers could not, even if they wished, 
launch a sizable attack across the Atlantic until they defeated Great Britain.^^ 

The heroic and successful British defense against the German air attacks 
that began on 10 July forms no proper part of this story. Nevertheless, in com- 
bination with the solution to the French Fleet problem, Britain's defense did 
enable the United States in September to return to the first of the basic poli- 
cies enunciated by the President on 10 June— large-scale aid to Great Britain. 


In the meantime, the United States embarked on a rapid and far-reaching 
mobilization of its industry and manpower. The American people quickly 
perceived that the danger was real and gave full backing to the unprecedented 
peacetime measures adopted for that purpose. Mobilization began with 
President Roosevelt's request to Congress on 16 May for large additional 
appropriations for national defense. In his message he emphasized the par- 
ticular need for additional airpower to combat any attempt to establish a hostile 
air base within range of the Western Hemisphere, and called for an increase 
in the current twelve-thousand-plane capacity of the American aircraft indus- 
try to one of fifty thousand. 

Congress responded in early June by appropriating or authorizing the 
expenditure of about $1,350,000,000— nearly two thirds of it for the Army. 
This total included a $200,000,000 Emergency Fund, to be expended or obli- 

Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 573, quoting note, Lord Lothian to President 
Roosevelt, 4 Jul 40. 

During a visit of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, to Washington, 7-11 July 
1940, the President decided to keep the fleet in Hawaiian waters for the time being. The Army 
at this time was still urging that strong detachments of the fleet be sent to the Atlantic to imple- 
ment the Rainbow 4 plans then being prepared. Kittredge MS, Ch. 12, p. 277. 

^' A nationwide poll conducted about 1 June 1940 by Fortune magazine indicated the following 
state of American public opinion: nearly 94 percent of those questioned approved spending "what- 
ever is necessary to build up as quickly as possible our army, navy, and air force"; 63 percent be- 
lieved that Germany would try to seize territory somewhere in the Western Hemisphere; and 45 
percent thought that it would attack American territory as soon as possible. Only 27 percent 
fevored entering the war either at once or if Britain and France seemed sure to lose without United 
States armed intervention. Nearly as many favored absolute neutrality, with no aid to Britain or 
France whatsoever. Special Supplement to Fortune magazine, July 1940. 



gated at the President's discretion. Allocations from this fund subsequently 
provided the means to finance several hemisphere defense projects, for exam- 
ple the arrangement with Pan American Airways for airport development in 
Latin America.'" The President followed his initial proposal with supple- 
mentary requests for defense funds on 31 May and 10 July. By mid-Septem- 
ber 1940, Congress had appropriated or authorized the expenditure of more 
than eight billion dollars during the fiscal year 1941 for Army and Navy 
expansion— nearly three fourths of it for the Army. The Army's portion alone 
about equaled the entire appropriations for maintaining the Army and Navy 
firom the beginning of the Roosevelt administration to June 1940." The de- 
dense appropriations between June and September offer a striking measure 
of the genuine alarm that gripped the American people and their representa- 
tives in Congress after the defeat of France. 

The President on 28 May appointed an Advisory Commission to the 
Council of National Defense— a group of experts drawn from the ranks of 
industry and labor to advise on mobilization of the nation's resources. The 
Advisory Commission and representatives of the armed services collaborated 
during June in working out a munitions program to guide the mobilization 
process. In its final form of 30 June, the munitions program called for pro- 
curement by 1 October 1941 of all items needed to equip and maintain a 
1,200,000-man army; procurement of reserve stocks of critical items sufficient 
to equip a 2,000,000-man force; creation of an industrial capacity adequate 
to supply a 4,000,000-man army on combat status; and an eventual strength 
of 18,000 planes for the Army Air Corps with expansion of the aircraft indus- 
try to an 18,000 yearly capacity for the production of Army planes.'^ 

When Hitler struck at western Europe in April 1940, the Regular Array 
had an enlisted strength of 230,000, approximately that authorized the pre- 
ceding September. Following the President's messages of 16 and 31 May, 
Congress in early June authorized an increase in Regular Army enlisted 
strength to 375,000. Until mid-June the Army had planned to reach this 
strength as rapidly as possible through enlistment of volunteers rather than 
through adoption of a selective service system, but the French collapse con- 
vinced General Marshall that a selective service system must be adopted. 
Prompted by the urgings of a group of influential civilians (including Henry 
L. Stimson, soon to become Secretary of War), Senator Edward R. Burke 

'» See lCh. XI below. 

" FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, pp. 192, 199-205, 253, 291. 

" Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 168-82, presents a comprehensive account of 
the evolution of this program. 



and Representative James W. Wadsworth on 20 June introduced a bill pro- 
posing a selective service system similar to that embodied in current Army 
plans for rapid military expansion. On 24 June General Marshall and Admiral 
Stark recommended to President Roosevelt the "immediate enactment . . . 
of a Selective Service Law along the lines of existing plans, to be followed 
at once by complete military and naval mobilization." " As noted previously, 
the President approved the recommendation in principle but objected to the 
system that the Army wanted to adopt. By the time that Secretary Stimson 
assumed his new office on 10 July, the President had yielded his objections to 
the selective service bill then under discussion in Congress, and General 
Marshall was able on 12 July to make a forthright statement in its favor and 
also one for the immediate induction of the National Guard into federal 
service. After extended debate. Congress on 27 August authorized the induc- 
tion of the National Guard and the calling up of the Army's Organized Pve- 
serves. On 14 September it passed t-he Selective Service and Training Act. 
These measures, together with an additional authorized increase in Regular 
Army strength, were designed to produce a 1,000,000-man army by the begin- 
ning of 1941 and a 1,400,000-man army (200,000 larger than contemplated 
in the 30 June munitions program) by 1 July 1941.''' 

The air program actually approved by the War Department in June 1940 
fell somewhat short of the eighteen-thousand-plane strength indorsed by 
President Roosevelt on 18 June. On 25 June the War Plans Division recom- 
mended a program that would provide a total Army airplane strength of 
12,835 modern planes by 1 April 1942. This total would permit the consti- 
tution of sixty air groups, of which fifty-four would be combat groups. Gen- 
eral Marshall approved the new program on 26 June. It thereafter became 
known as the "First Aviation Objective" but was often referred to as the 
"54-group program." " The new air program was designed to provide ade- 
quate protection for the United States, its outlying territories (except the 
Philippines), and the Caribbean area, and also to provide a force of about 
1,000 tactical planes for use, in co-operation with the Navy, in establishing 
and maintaining effective air control in South America.'^ 

In addition to its supply and manpower aspects, the Army's mobilization 
in 1940 included the installation in July of a new top civilian team, under 

" Jt Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 22 Jun 40, WPD 4250-}. 

Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, Ch. VII. 
" For further details, see Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., the Army Air 
Forces in World War II, Vol. VI, Men and Planes (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 
1955) (hereafter cited as AAF VI), pp. 263-71. 

Tab B, Memo, WPD for CofS, ^Jun 41, WPD 3807-83. 


Secretary of War Stimson, which brought a new element of harmony into 
the civilian direction of the War Department. Organizationally, the Army 
established a separate Armored Force on 10 July, and on 26 July it created 
the nucleus of a General Headquarters to direct the training and emergency 
deployment of the greatly enlarged Army that was in prospect." The four 
field armies in the continental United States, hitherto existing principally on 
paper, were presently given separate commanders and staffs and the immedi- 
ate responsibility for training ground combat units as well as for planning the 
defense of the continental United States against external attack.'* 

The plans and measures for Army expansion to meet the crisis of 1940 
were matched by a naval expansion program, designed to provide the United 
States with a "two-ocean" Navy that could cope simultaneously with Japa- 
nese naval power in the Pacific and with the naval power that Germany and 
Italy had or might acquire in the Atlantic. On 7 June, the Navy's General 
Board proposed a building program that would about double the existing 
strength of the Navy in combat vessels. Congress approved the program on 
19 July, and by the fall of 1940 the Navy had begun construction on more 
vessels than it then had in actual service.'' 

Outside of the military services, mobilization called forth a host of new 
civilian agencies under the Advisory Commission to the Council of National 
Defense to supervise the gradual transformation of the national economy 
from a peacetime to a wartime basis.''" 

The Fate of European Possessions 

Germany's continental land victory and threatened invasion of the British 
Isles brought to the fore two parallel and interrelated problems: the fate of 
the Western Hemisphere possessions of the European nations engulfed or 
menaced by Germany, and the need of the United States for new bases along 

" See Greenfield and Palmer, "Origins of the Army Ground Forces: General Headquarters, 
United States Army, 1940-42," in The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, pp. 5ff. 

Initially, the War Plans Division proposed to transfer its detailed planning functions and con- 
trol over theater and task-force operations to General Headquarters about 15 September 1940. 
With Britain's stout resistance to German attacks, the likelihood of extensive early operations faded, 
and General Marshall deferred the activation of General Headquarters as an agency for planning 
and directing operations until the following summer. Pers Ltr, Gen Strong to Gen Marshall, 6 Aug 
40; and Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Aug 42 (and notations thereon). Both in AGF file. Miscel- 
laneous Correspondence, AGF Drawer 603. 

" See Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, Ch. II. 

" Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 27-28; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, 
p. 549. 

'"' See Civilian Production Administration, Industrial Mobilization for War: Program and Ad- 
ministration (Washington: 1947), Ch. IV and chart on p. 37. 



the Atlantic front to fend off the threat of a Nazi onslaught on the New 
World. The new Rainbow 4 war plan, hastily tailored to fit this emergency, 
had provided for the immediate occupation of European possessions in the 
Western Hemisphere and the deployment of United States forces for the 
protection of major defense positions from Newfoundland to the Brazilian 
bulge, both in European possessions and at strategic points in other Western 
Hemisphere nations. When the Germans failed to get the French Fleet, and 
also failed to carry out an immediate ground assault on Great Britain, the 
situation eased. The full scope of the Rainbow 4 plan with respect to bases 
and possessions never had to be invoked, but its intent was partially realized 
in two political agreements of profound signifiance for hemisphere defense— 
the Act of Havana of 27 July 1940 and the Destroyer-Base Agreement with 
Great Britain of 2 September 1940. Although the Army played a compara- 
tively minor role in the actual negotiation of these agreements, it had a good 
deal to do with their inspiration and a very large interest in their consum- 

Until the war's quick turn in April and May 1940, neither the military 
nor the broader national interests of the United States appeared to justify 
forthright moves toward acquisition of new bases for purposes of hemisphere 
defense. In late March the Army's War Plans Division undertook a new 
detailed review of the potential military value to the United States of all 
European possessions in the Western Hemisphere, as well as of Cocos and 
the Galapagos Islands. It reached the conclusion that, from the Army's point 
of view, the only areas of any real military value to the United States were: 
Newfoundland (or a base site thereon) or, alternately, St. Pierre and Mique- 
lon; Bermuda; the British Virgin Islands; Trinidad; and Cocos and the Gala- 
pagos Islands. But, the Army study held, "the potential military value of the 
areas listed above is insufficient, when weighed in the light of political and 
economic considerations, to justify their acquisition" at that time.'" During 
the same month. President Roosevelt informed the Navy that he had no 
intention during peacetime of approving the purchase or lease of any base 
sites in foreign territory in the vicinity of the Caribbean, because he believed 
"in the event of war independent Republics bordering on the Carribbean 
would be on the side of the United States" and would permit American forces 
to use their base facilities without further question.''^ 

Germany's occupation of Denmark raised immediate problems for the 
United States with respect to the future of Greenland and Iceland. The Dan- 

*' Memo, WPD for CofS, 29 Mar 40, WPD 3977-2. 

" Memo, President for SN et a/., 8 Mai 40, JB 326, set 652-1. 



ish colony of Greenland was completely unprepared to resist a German attack 
or occupation. Since Greenland was considered a part of the Western Hemis- 
phere, the United States opposed its military occupation by British or Cana- 
dian forces; such an occupation might give the Germans an excuse to attack 
this northern flank of the hemisphere. At the same time, the United States 
Government was as yet unwilling to commit itself to protection of Green- 
land with its own forces. It limited its actions to opening a new consulate 
at Godthaab, the Greenland capital; to the establishment of a Greenland patrol 
by Coast Guard cutters; and to the sale of a small quantity of arms and ammu- 
nition to Greenland authorities to be used for protection of the cryolite mine 
at Ivigtut."" 

Iceland, unlike Greenland, was not generally considered to lie within the 
bounds- of the Western Hemisphere, yet Iceland's location on the northern 
flank of the main sea lanes between North America and the British Isles 
made its control of concern to the United States as well as to Canada and 
Great Britain. The Icelandic parliament simplified the situation by asserting 
its virtual independence of Denmark on 10 April 1940. A month later Brit- 
ish troops landed in Iceland. To keep in touch with developments, the United 
States promptly arranged with Icelandic authorities for the exchange of con- 
sular representatives.'''' 

The German occupation of the Netherlands and the prospect of a Nazi 
victory over Great Britain and France posed an immediate and grave prob- 
lem for the United States in regard to the fate of possessions of these three 
nations in the New World. Shortly before Hitler struck at the West, Presi- 
dent Roosevelt had been presented with a suggestion that the United States 
acquire the Guianas — British, Dutch, and French. Both the President and 
Under Secretary of State Welles rejected this idea on the ground that a move 
to acquire sovereign or exclusive control over any European possession in 
the Western Hemisphere would not only be contrary to existing national 
policy against territorial expansion but also would be sure to arouse the sus- 
picion and resentment of the Latin American nations. Instead, the President 
and Mr. Welles agreed that if European possessions had to be taken over to 
keep them from falling into German hands, the action should be accomplished 
by establishing a Pan-American trusteeship administration to supervise their 
temporary occupation and control.'" 

*^ Ltr, SW to Secy State, 31 May 40, WPD 4313; Langer and Gleason, Chalimge to Isolation. 
pp. 429-33. See Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, Ch. XIII. 

'•''Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, Ch. XIV, and Langer and 
Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 433-35. 

Memo, President for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, 4 May 40; Memo, Mr. Welles for President, 
6 May 40. Both in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



Before there had been any further definition of American policy on this 
score, the British and French precipitated a minor diplomatic crisis by land- 
ing forces on the Dutch West Indian islands of Curasao and Aruba on 1 1 May 
1940. The Department of State registered a strong protest with British Am- 
bassador Lord Lothian. As in the case of Greenland, the United States was 
opposed to the occupation of any Western Hemisphere territory belonging 
to a conquered or occupied nation by the armed forces of other belligerent 
powers. Secretary Hull finally persuaded the British to announce that they 
had no intention of occupying these Dutch possessions permanently and that 
they would withdraw their forces as soon as sufficient Dutch troops were 
available to defend them.'"^ 

The rapid German advance in France inspired more forceful proposals 
for dealing with the problem of European possessions. On 21 May one of 
General Marshall's staff officers recommended that "this country . . take 
immediate steps to acquire British and French possessions in the Atlantic," 
and, as noted above, the "possible protective occupation of European posses- 
sions" was one of the main items presented by War Plans to the Chief of 
Staff for decision on 22 May.*^ On 23 May Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, 
Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, urged the President to get in touch 
with the British and French Governments to see if they would "sell and 
assign certain of their possessions in this hemisphere which are vital to our 
defense in consideration of the relinquishment of their obligations to us." 
These proposals, coupled with the British report that a German force of 6,000 
troops had been embarked and might be headed for the South Atlantic with 
designs on either the Guianas or Brazil, persuaded the President on 24 May 
to direct the Army and Navy to prepare an emergency plan for occupation 
of all British, French, and Dutch possessions, in order to prevent them from 
falling into the hands of Germany by surrender or cession. While the Army 
and Navy staffs were working on the plan. General Marshall asked the De- 
partment of State to make diplomatic arrangements with the British Govern- 
ment so that, if necessary, American forces could be quickly established in 
all British possessions except Labrador."' 

■•^Hull, Memoirs, I, 814-16; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 625-26. When 
France fell, French forces were withdrawn. British forces remained until relieved by American 
troops in February 1942. 

Unsigned Memo, 21 May 40, OCS Conf Binder 2, Emergency Measures, 1939-40. 
-i* Memo, WPD for CofS, 22 May 40, WPD 4175-7. 

Ltr, Davies to President, 23 May 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
'» Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 May 40, and pen notations thereon, WPD 4175-9; Kitcredge 
MS, Ch. 8, notes 25-27. 



The Navy War Plans Division, after collaboration with Army planners, 
submitted an emergency plan for occupying European possessions to Admiral 
Stark on 28 May. It proposed that, if Germany demanded the cession of any 
British, French, or Dutch possessions, the United States should immediately 
and without advance publicity assert its sovereignty over these possessions 
and occupy them forthwith. The joint Army and Navy Rainbow 4 plan 
completed on 30 May contained approximately the same proposal. "Joint 
Task No. 1" in that plan was to "establish United States sovereignty in Brit- 
ish, French, Dutch, and Danish possessions in the Western Hemisphere," 
including those in the Pacific east of the 180th meridian. The plan also pro- 
posed that the United States Government secure immediate approval of the 
governments concerned for American occupation of their possessions." 

While the Army and Navy planners were getting to work in June on the 
detailed subordinate plans to implement the joint RAINBOW 4 plan, the 
Department of State took the initiative, on the one hand in advertising the 
adamant opposition of the United States to any move by Germany or Italy 
to gain a foothold in the New World and on the other in working for the 
adoption of a Pan-American trusteeship scheme in substitution for the action 
proposed by the military services. Secretary Hull asked Congress to introduce 
a joint resolution declaring that the United States would not recognize the 
transfer of any Western Hemisphere possession from one European power 
to another, and that, in case anything of that sort were attempted, the United 
States "would immediately consult with the other American Republics on 
measures necessary to safeguard . . . common interests." This resolution 
was introduced on 17 June, the day that France asked for an armistice. On 
the same day, the Department of State officially informed Germany and Italy 
that the United States would not recognize or acquiesce in any transfer of 
Western Hemisphere territory "from one non- American Power to another 
non-American Power." Secretary Hull, also on 17 June, invited the foreign 
ministers of the other American republics to a consultative meeting at Ha- 
vana, Cuba, to be assembled as soon as possible, in accordance with the final 
resolution adopted at Panama the preceding October.'' 

The foreign ministers convened on 21 July 1940. Secretary Hull, as head 
of the United States delegation, found a difficult situation facing him at Ha- 
vana, the Latin American delegates being all too aware that the existing 

" Kictredge MS, Ch. 8, p. 161 (text) and pp. 124-25 (fns.); Jt A&N Rainbow 4, JB 325, 
ser 642-4. 

" Hull, Meinoin. I, 816. 

" Hull, Memoirs, I, 791-92, 816-18; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 550, 627; 
Kittredge MS, Ch. 8. 



armed forces of the United States were not adequate to make any real defense 
of the southern portion of the hemisphere. Mr. Hull's opening address was 
fortified by the President's simultaneous request to Congress to increase the 
lending authority of the Export-Import Bank by $500,000,000 to aid in 
marketing Latin American products cut off from their normal European out- 
lets.''' After a sharp diplomatic struggle, the delegates on 27 July reached 
agreement on methods for dealing with European possessions threatened by 
German or Italian engulfment. The Convention of Havana provided for an 
inter- American administration of European possessions should it become nec- 
essary to take them over in order to prevent the Axis Powers from gaining 
control of them. More important was the adoption of the Act of Havana, 
which called for the appointment of an interim emergency committee to func- 
tion until the inter- American administrative regime could be established. 
The act also provided that, "should the need for emergency action be so 
urgent that action by the committee cannot be awaited, any of the Ameri- 
can Republics, individually or jointly with others, shall have the right to act 
in the manner which its own defense or that of the Continent requires." " 
This last provision amounted to an authorization for the United States and 
its armed forces to undertake unilaterally the steps contemplated in Rain- 
bow 4, except for the assertion of sovereignty."' The problem thereafter was 
one of developing the means to carry out temporary occupations of Euro- 
pean possessions if such actions became necessary. 

Before the Havana Conference convened, the United States had to tackle 
the specific problem of France's New World possessions— the tiny islands 
of St. Pierre and Miquelon off Newfoundland's southern coast, French Gui- 
ana in South America, and the West Indian islands of Guadeloupe and 
Martinique. For a variety of reasons Martinique was overwhelmingly the 
most important. It was the administrative center and economically the most 
productive of the French colonies. Furthermore, when France sued for an 
armistice on 17 June, several French warships scurried to Martinique's good 
harbor and capital, Fort de France. One, the aircraft carrier Beam, was carry- 
ing a load of 106 pursuit planes of American manufacture en route to France 
at the time of the armistice. Another vessel brought in nearly a quarter bil- 
lion dollars of the French Government's gold reserve, the bulk of which was 
then being rushed to the Western Hemisphere under United States Govern- 
ment and Navy auspices. Martinique also sheltered two French cruisers, one 

" Hull, Memoirs, I, 822-24; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 688ff.; Memo, 
Asst Secy State Berle for President Roosevelt, 18 Jul 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
" Documents on American Foreign Relations, July I9i9-June 1940, II, 95. 
" Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 697. 



a faster ship than anything the United States Navy had in the Caribbean area, 
as well as other naval and merchant vessels. When France surrendered, Admiral 
Georges Robert, who had been appointed High Commissioner for France's 
New World possessions in 1939, promptly asserted his unswerving loyalty to 
the Vichy regime of Marshal Henri Petam. 

American action toward Martinique was precipitated by British moves to 
insure that the naval vessels, gold, and airplanes there did not fall into Ger- 
man hands. On 1 July, after the Department of State learned that the British 
planned to establish a blockade of Martinique, Under Secretary Welles warned 
Lord Lothian that the United States would not permit Great Britain to occupy 
the French Antilles. When the British issued ultimatums to other French 
naval commanders on 3 July, they refrained from delivering one to Admiral 
Robert. Nevertheless, on 4 July they instituted a naval blockade of Marti- 
nique. The next day Secretary Hull protested to Lord Lothian that any Brit- 
ish attempt to seize Martinique or the French naval vessels anchored there 
would "involve real trouble between your Government and mine." On 
6 July President Roosevelt directed the Navy to send a cruiser and six 
destroyers to Martinique, with the somewhat incongruous result that by mid- 
July Martinique was guarded by an inner British naval patrol and an outer 
American one.'* On 5 July General Marshall and Admiral Stark had directed 
the Joint Planning Committee to prepare an emergency plan for the occupa- 
tion of Martinique and Guadeloupe by United States forces, "should events 
render this necessary to prevent control of these strategic islands by Germany 
or by French authorities under German direction." The plan, completed on 
8 July, contemplated dispatch of an expeditionary force from New York on 
or about 15 July. The 1st Marine Brigade was earmarked to provide the ini- 
tial assault force, to be followed by a task force built around the Army's 1st 
Infantry Division.'' 

With American military forces being readied to take such action toward 
Martinique as might become necessary, the State and Navy Departments dur- 
ing July and August negotiated a temporary compromise to relieve the tense 
situation. Although Admiral Robert resisted both British and American at- 
tempts to persuade him to release the airplanes and gold, or to throw in his 
lot with the Free French forces, he did agree on 24 July to discuss matters 
with an American naval representative. Rear Adm. John W. Greenslade was 
sent to Martinique, and by the end of August he and Admiral Robert had 

" Hull, Memoirs. I, 818-20. 

^« Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 690. 

" Kictredge MS, Ch. 8, p. 188 and fns.; Memo, WPD for ACsofS G-} and G-4, 11 Jul 40, 
WPD 4}37. 



worked out an informal agreement that provided essentially for the mainte- 
nance of the status quo in France's Western Hemisphere possessions. On the 
one hand, Admiral Robert agreed to permit the stationing of an American 
naval observer at Fort de France and the establishment of United States con- 
sulates in Martinique, in French Guiana, and in St. Pierre and Miquelon. On 
the other hand, Admiral Greenslade promised that the United States would 
supply the French possessions with needed food and oil.''" The effect of this 
understanding was to immobilize the French forces at Martinique. Great 
Britain withdrew its naval units and discontinued efforts to get Admiral 
Robert (and the ships, planes, and gold) into the British camp. The United 
States Navy continued an active surface and air patrol of the island to insure 
that the French authorities abided by their agreements. But the Martinique 
problem was far from settled and was to flare anew in late October 1940.*' 

The Destroyer-Base Agreement 

The Anglo-American Destroyer-Base Agreement of 2 September 1940 
was the spectacular end product of the measures taken during the preceding 
summer to protect the New World from Nazi intrusion. Actually, its prin- 
cipal stimulus seems to have been an American desire to bolster British naval 
strength against the threatened invasion of England, rather than an immedi- 
ate military interest in the particular bases acquired in the deal. Since the 
spring of 1939 both the Army and the Navy had planned to acquire addi- 
tional bases when needed for their hemisphere defense missions, and they 
certainly did not want the British possessions in which bases were obtained 
in September 1940 to fall into German hands under any circumstances. But 
the Army was still too small to warrant promiscuous deployment of its forces 
to all areas that conceivably might be threatened by Axis occupation. Un- 
known to the American public, the Navy already had limited access to base 
facilities in Bermuda, St. Lucia, and Trinidad that helped to support the 
patrol of the western Atlantic, and it therefore had no immediate and press- 
ing need for additional facilities. In effect, what happened in September 
1S>40 was that the Army and Navy were handed base sites in British posses- 
sions and were told to fit them into their plans and preparations for hemis- 

Hull, Memoirs, I, 818-20; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 691. The man- 
ner in which supplies to Martinique were to be controlled is illustrated by the following: On 12 
August 1940, "it was agreed that the Navy should give the State Department figures of what 
they considered the necessary amount of gas and oil to be sent to Martinique, and the State De- 
parment would arrange with oil companies to restrict shipments to that amount." Notes on 
SLC mtg, 12 Aug 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 55. 
«i See lCh. IV| below. 



phere defense. Potentially, the base sites were far more valuable to the 
United States than the destroyers for which they were exchanged, but at the 
moment Army and Navy officers were inclined to view their acquisition as 
little more than a convenient expedient to make the destroyer transfer politi- 
cally acceptable to the American Congress and people. 

It was, then, the British quest for destroyers, rather than an American 
overture for new bases, that inspired the destroyer-base transaction. From 
15 May 1940 onward, Prime Minister Churchill made repeated requests for 
the "loan" or sale of old destroyers— the recommissioned World War I type 
of vessels then engaged in the Navy's neutrality patrol in the western At- 
lantic.*^^ Whatever disposition President Roosevelt and his advisers may 
have had to act on these requests was soon curbed by Congressional action. 
Section 14(a) of the Naval Expansion Act, passed on 28 June, read: 

Notwithstanding the provision of any other law, no military or naval weapon, ship, 
boat, aircraft, munitions, supplies, or equipment, to which the United States has title, in 
whole or in part, or which have been contracted for, shall hereafter be transferred, ex- 
changed, sold, or otherwise disposed of in any manner whatsoever unless the Chief of 
Naval Operations in the case of naval material and the Chief of Staff in the case of mili- 
tary materia], shall first certify that such material is not essential to the defense of the 
United States. 

This limitation was followed by a provision that copies of any "contract, 
order, or agreement" made for the disposal of Army or Navy material must 
be deposited with Congress within twenty-four hours of the time that the 
transaction was completed. These new legal restrictions appeared to present 
a formidable barrier to the transfer of recommissioned destroyers to the Brit- 
isli, as well as a sharp restraint on the future assignment of surplus Army 
and Navy stocks to them.*^^ 

The partial solution of the French Fleet problem in early July, coupled 
with the impending threat of a German invasion of Great Britain, made the 
President and several of his advisers increasingly receptive to the idea of trans- 
ferring destroyers to Britain, if some way could be found to do so. Benjamin 
V. Cohen, one of Mr. Roosevelt's most trusted legal advisers, suggested such 
a way in a memorandum of 19 July, in which he concluded that neither Ameri- 
can nor international law barred the sale of destroyers to Great Britain "if 

" Churchill, Their Finest Hour, pp. 24ff.; Kittredge MS, Chs. 7, 9. 

When the Eureopean war began in 1939, the United States had about 153 old "four-stackers," 
almost all of them in stprage; most of these were recommissioned as destroyers or converted to 
other types of vessels between September 1939 and the fall of 1940. After the destroyer-base deal, 
the United States had left eighty-three of the vessels, either in commission or available for recom- 
missioning as destroyers. Statistics compiled from Jane's Fighting Ships, 1939, 1940, and 1941 
editions (New York: The Macmillan Company). 

Memo, CNO for President, 2 1 Aug 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; Kittredge MS, Ch. 9, p. 198. 



their release [would] strengthen rather than weaken the defense position of 
the United States." President Roosevelt expressed his frank doubt of the va- 
lidity of Mr. Cohen's argument, "in view of the clause in the big authoriza- 
tion bill [Naval Expansion Act] . . . which is intended to be a complete 
prohibition of sale." He added, "I fear Congress is in no mood at the pres- 
ent time to allow any form of sale." In expressing these views to Frank Knox, 
the new Secretary of the Navy, he nevertheless suggested that Mr. Knox ex- 
plore the idea of getting Congressional approval of a "sale of these destroyers 
to Canada on condition that they be used solely in American Hemisphere 
defense, i.e., from Greenland to British Guiana including Bermuda and the 
West Indies." This, the President observed, "would release other ships for 
Other purposes."'^"' 

The first concrete proposal linking the transfer of destroyers to the acqui- 
sition of bases came from the Century Group, as the New York branch of 
the Committee To Defend America by Aiding the Allies was called. Mem- 
bers of the group assiduously circulated their proposal, particularly in its 
revised form of 25 July, among civilian and military officials in Washing- 
ton, including Ambassador Lothian.'^' Two months earlier, in late May, the 
British Ambassador had himself suggested that Great Britain volunteer to 
lease areas in Newfoundland, Bermuda, and Trinidad to the United States 
for the construction of air and naval bases. The British Cabinet had rejected 
this suggestion, partly because of the refusal of the United States at that 
time to turn over some of its destroyers to the British Navy. In late July the 
British Cabinet reversed its decision and agreed to offer limited base rights 
to the United States without requiring any quid pro quo.^''' On 31 July Prime 
Minister Churchill addressed a new and urgent appeal to Mr. Roosevelt, 
stressing the desperate need for fifty or sixty destroyers as well as for motor 
torpedo boats and naval planes.*^' Then on 1 August, representatives of the 
Century Group formally presented their proposal for exchanging destroyers 
for bases to the President."^" 

All of the above quotations are from Memo, President for SN, 22 Jul 40, and annotations 
thereon, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

''^ On the work of the Century Group, see Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 

'■''J. R. M. Butler, History of the Serond World War — United Kingdom Military Series, Grand 
Strategy, Volume 11: September 1939-Jum 1941 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1957) 
(hereafter cited as Grand Strategy, II), pp. 244-45. Lord Lothian's suggestion of late May may 
have been prompted by American planning at that time for the emergency occupation of European 
possessions, if necessary, to keep them out of German hands. 

" Churchill, Their Finest Hour, pp. 401-02. 

Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 747. 



It was in this setting that President Roosevelt and his Cabinet examined 
all aspects of the problem on 2 August. Secretary Knox proposed that Brit- 
ain sell some of its possessions to the United States as a consideration for 
the transfer of fifty or sixty destroyers. Secretary Hull objected on the basis 
that a purchase of British possessions would amount to a violation of the 
recently adopted Havana agreements. The President himself suggested that 
instead of a purchase of territories the United States might lease bases in 
them, thereby securing an extension of the limited access to base facilities 
obtained in 1939. With respect to destroyers, the President and his Cabinet 
agreed unanimously that Britain was in desperate need of them, that their 
transfer could not be accomplished without the enactment of new legislation, 
and that Congress would not pass enabling legislation unless the United 
States received an ironclad guarantee from Great Britain that its fleet would 
continue the fight from American waters should Britain fall after a Nazi 

Three days later the British Ambassador submitted a list of what Great 
Britain wanted and of what it was prepared to give in return. Britain wanted 
ninety-six destroyers, twenty motor torpedo boats, fifty naval patrol bombers, 
an unspecified number of naval dive bombers, and 250,000 Enfield rifles. In 
return. Great Britain offered: (1) a "continuation" of the agreement made in 
1939 for limited use by the United States Navy of waters and shore facilities 
at Bermuda, St. Lucia, and Trinidad; (2) United States Army aircraft to be 
allowed to land on Jamaica, British Guiana, and Trinidad; (3) Pan Ameri- 
can Airways to be allowed to lease a small area in Trinidad where it could 
store supplies and erect a radio station; (4) Pan American Airways, as the 
agent of the United States Government, to be allowed to lease airfield sites 
in Jamaica and British Guiana; and (5) United States Army aircraft to be 
permitted to m.ake occasional training flights to Newfoundland.^" A compar- 
ison of these terms with those actually included in the agreement of 2 Sep- 
tember 1940 indicates clearly how much negotiation and compromise was 
required during August to reconcile the British and American positions. 

When Under Secretary Welles presented the British terms to President 
Roosevelt on 8 August, they contained two additional points. First, the Brit- 
ish agreed that Prime Minister Churchill would reiterate the public pledge 

" President's notes on Cabinet mtg, 2 Aug 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; Diary of Henry L. 
Stimson, entry of 2 Aug 40. A microfilm copy of the Diary was examined at the Sterling Library, 
Yale University. 

Memo, Lord Lothian for President, 5 Aug 40, copy sent to Under Secretary of State Welles, 
same date, and inclosed in Ltr, Welles to President, 8 Aug 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; Hull, 
Memoirs, I, 831. 



given on 4 June with respect to the British Fleet; and, second, the British 
insisted that their commercial airlines must have equal rights with United 
States airlines during and after the war at airfields constructed by Pan Ameri- 
can Airways in British possessions. On the first point, Mr. Welles observed 
that the 4 June pledge had been given in the name of the Churchill admin- 
istration and not in the name of the British nation and that it therefore would 
not satisfy the President's demand for a guarantee.^' With respect to the 
second, the British demand scotched the initial intention of having Pan 
American Airways develop airfields in British Caribbean possessions; although 
Pan American undertook some preliminary work on air bases in Trinidad 
and British Guiana, these projects were taken over and completed by the 
Army and Navy, and the airfields developed in other British possessions 
were strictly military projects.'^ 

At some time during the next five days, President Roosevelt jotted down 
the concessions that he felt Great Britain must make in order to receive the 

1. Assurance on the part of the Prime Minister that in the event that waters of G.B. 
become untenable for British ships of war to remain, they would not be turned over to 
the Germans or sunk, but would be sent to other parts of the Empire for continued de- 
fense of the Empire. 

2. Agreement that G.B. will authorize use of Newfoundland, Bermuda, Bahamas, 
Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and British Guiana as naval and air bases by the U.S., in 
the event of an attack on the Am. Hemisphere by any non-American nations. And in the 
meantime U.S. to have right to establish such bases and use them for training and exer- 
cise purposes. Land necessary for above to be bought or leased for S)9 years.'* 

On 13 August the President first discussed these terms with an inner circle 
of his advisers and then transmitted them to Mr. Churchill. If the British 
agreed to them, Mr. Roosevelt stated, the United States would promise to 
furnish in exchange fifty destroyers, some motor torpedo boats, and ten naval 
aircraft. The Prime Minister on 15 August accepted the President's proposals 
in principle but with one significant exception: he offered only to "reiterate" 
the pledge he had given on 4 June and not to issue a new and more binding 
pledge with respect to the British Fleet. He also observed that it would be 
necessary to consult with Canada about the Newfoundland base. Neverthe- 
less, Mr. Churchill now felt sufficiently confident of the successful conclusion 

" Ltr, Welles to President, 8 Aug 40, and incls, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
" See lCh. X| below. 

Memo, undated and unsigned, in President Roosevelt's handwriting and atchd to Welles' 
memo of 8 Aug, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 


of the negotiation to begin the movement of British crews to Halifax to 
take over the destroyers.''' 

At a Cabinet meeting on 16 August the President discussed his proposals 
with Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, and the next day Mr. Jackson 
addressed a letter to Secretary Knox that concluded: 

I understand that negotiations are now pending looking towards the transfer of cer- 
tain old destroyers to the Canadian Government conditioned upon the granting by the 
British Government of certain naval and air bases in the Western Hemisphere to the United 
States. It is my opinion that the Chief of Naval Operations may, and should, certify un- 
der section 14(a) [of the Naval Expansion Act] that such destroyers are not essential to 
the defense of the United States if in his judgment the exchange of such destroyers for 
strategic naval and air bases will strengthen rather than impair the total defense of the 
United States." 

This opinion, it will be noted, presented the same argument advanced by 
Mr. Cohen on 19 July- By now accepting that argument, Ptesident Roose- 
velt and his advisers relieved themselves of their previous conviction that 
new legislation would be necessary to authorize the transference of the 

Mr. Jackson's letter also indicates his understanding that the earlier idea 
of transferring the destroyers initially to Canada was still alive on the eve of 
President Roosevelt's meeting with Canadian Prime Ministet Mackenzie 
King at Ogdensburg, New York, on 17-18 August. At Ogdensburg the Presi- 
dent and the Prime Minister agreed on the immediate establishment of a 
Canadian-American Permanent Joint Board on Defense. Mr. Roosevelt also 
talked to Mr. Mackenzie King in some detail about his recent negotiations 
with Great Britain, and the two chief executives discussed the mechanism of 
transferring the destroyers at Halifax. Apparently they did not an in- 
termediate transfer of the destroyers to Canada, only their transfer through 
Canadian waters to British crews. 

After the Ogdensburg meeting Under Secretary Welles, at the President's 
direction, prepared drafts of notes to be exchanged between the United States 
and British Governments and handed them to Lord Lothian. Mr. Welles's 
draft of the British note contained three parts: First, Great Britain pledged 

Stimson Diary, entry of 13 Aug 40; Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active 
Service: In Peace and War (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948) (hereafter cited as On Active 
Service), pp. 356-57; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 758-60; Churchill, Their 
Finest Hour, pp. 406-08. 

" Ltr, Attorney General to SN, 17 Aug 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

J'' Stimson Di ary, entry of 17 Aug 40; Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, pp. 357-58. 
See [Chapter XI V| below, for the background of the Ogdensburg meeting and for further details 
of Canadian-American defense negotiations and the work of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense 



itself not to surrender or sink its fleet. Second, the British agreed to 99-year 
leases on bases in the possessions previously enumerated, with the United 
States exercising sole judgment in the selection of base sites "for purposes 
of defense as well as for peacetime training"; Mr. Welles's draft also speci- 
fied that "the British Government . . . will grant to the United States for 
the period of the leases all the rights, power, and authority within the bases 
leased . . . which the United States would possess and exercise if it were the 
sovereign of the territory and waters above mentioned to the entire exclu- 
sion of the exercise by the British Government and its agents of such sover- 
eign rights, power, and authority." And, third, "the British Government will 
accept as in full compensation for the leases . . . the following naval and 
military materiel," with specification of the latter left blank.''^ 

The second Welles's draft was a formal acknowledgment by the United 
States Government of the above note and a pledge to transfer forthwith to 
the British Government the naval and military material listed in the note. 
In return for the acceptance of these terms, the United States offered to turn 
over to Great Britain fifty destroyers, twenty motor torpedo boats, five Navy 
patrol bombers, five Army B-17 heavy bombers, 250,000 Enfield rifles, and 
5,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. Secretary of War Stimson and 
General Marshall on 20 August approved the proffer of the Army items 

These proposals drafted on 19 and 20 August by no means reflected the 
terms upon which the British had previously indicated their willingness to 
settle. To date, Mr. Churchill had consistently refused to make any change 
in his 4 June pledge, and he seems to have been particularly disturbed by 
the insertion of the word "sovereignty" into the proposed agreement. In a 
public address to Parliament on 20 August, the Prime Minister denied that 
"any transference of sovereignty" had ever been suggested during the nego- 
tiations. In a message to the President of 22 August, Mr. Churchill again 
refused to alter his 4 June pledge, and also objected to the proposal that the 
United States exercise exclusive judgment in the selection of base sites. In- 
deed, he now took the position that he and his government had never con- 
templated any formal bargain or exchange; the British Cabinet had decided 
to offer the bases "without stipulating for any return," and it was prepared 

" Ltr, Welles to President, 19 Aug 40, and inclosed Drafts A and B, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
Ihid.; Hull, Memoirs, I, 8}5; Notes on Conf in OCS, 20 Aug 40, OPD Records; Memo, Gen 
Marshall for SW, n.d., SW file. Destroyer- Base; Ltr, SW to Under Secy State, 20 Aug 40, SW 
file. State Department. 



to make good its offer even if the United States decided against transferring 
the destroyers and other war material7^ 

The Prime Minister's message of 22 August created a temporary impasse 
in the negotiation. On the preceding day, Admiral Stark had written the 
President that he would sign the necessary certificates to permit the transfer 
of the destroyers and patrol bombers, but only if they were exchanged for 
bases and if an assurance that money for the development of the bases would 
be forthcoming."" With Admiral Stark reconciled to the deal, the President 
and his advisers had agreed among themselves on the terms to be offered 
Britain and on the method of executing the agreement. The new British 
proposal, that the bases be handed over to the United States as a "gift" and 
that the destroyers and other items be transferred to Great Britain as a sepa- 
rate but more or less simultaneous "gift," came as something of a shock to 
American officialdom. The Department of State told Lord Lothian that it 
would be "utterly impossible" to make a gift of the destroyers, and the Presi- 
dent talked to Mr. Churchill in the same vein by transatlantic phone.^' 

At this point, Secretary Hull returned to Washington from a three 
weeks' vacation and took up the problem of resolving the wide differences 
that still remained between the American and British points of view. The im- 
passe was broken on 26 August when the Department of State suggested 
that the two North Atlantic base sites— Newfoundland and Bermuda — be 
accepted from Britain as outright gifts, and that only the Caribbean base 
sites be specifically exchanged for the destroyers. The British Government 
agreed to this idea and voluntarily added Antigua to the list of Caribbean 
bases. Other compromises followed. At British insistence, all reference to 
"sovereignty" was dropped from the draft proposals. In place of the Ameri- 
can demand for exercise of "exclusive judgment" in the selection of base 
sites, it was agreed that the sites would be chosen by a joint commission 
of experts who would make the selection "by common agreement"; on the 
other hand, the final agreement spelled out the general locations desired as 
base sites (for example, "on the east coast and on the Great Bay of Bermuda"), 
whereas the 19 August draft had merely named the various British posses- 
sions in which bases were to be established. Finally, the United States agreed 
that the guarantee with respect to the British Fleet need not be made an in- 
tegral part of the agreement, but that it could be given in a separate but 
simultaneous exchange of notes. On the British side, Mr. Churchill finally 

''Churchill, Their Finest Hour, pp. 408-10. 

»" Memo, Adm Stark for President, 21 Aug 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
*' Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 765-66. 



accepted a formula for a guarantee pledging that Great Britain would never 
surrender or scuttle its fleet— the commitment that the President and his ad- 
visers had insisted upon as an essential quid pro quo since the negotiation 
began. With almost all details agreed upon, the Attorney General submitted 
to the President a formal legal indorsement of the transaction, except for the 
proposed transfer of motor torpedo boats, which he ruled illegal."^ 

The several notes that constituted the Destroyer-Base Agreement were 
signed on the evening of 2 September, and, in compliance with the act of 
28 June 1940, President Roosevelt transmitted the two principal notes to 
Congress the next day. The separate notes containing the British Fleet pledge 
were not sent to Congress but were announced coincidentally in the press.*' 
The agreement, as signed, provided only for the transfer of destroyers, ap- 
parently because the President failed to tell Secretary Hull that he had ap- 
proved the transfer of other Army and Navy material as well. Before Lord 
Lothian signed, he protested to Mr. Hull that he had understood that other 
military items were also involved. The Secretary insisted that he was not ac- 
quainted with the President's decision to include any other items than the 
destroyers. With some reluctance, the British ambassador signed the notes 
as they were presented to him."'' Newsmen on 3 September immediately noted 
the discrepancy between the wording of Secretary Hull's and Lord Lothian's 
notes, but a Department of State spokesman insisted "that while the destroyers 
represented inadequate payment for the bases, the agreement to deliver them 
completed the transaction.""^ 

The Army subsequently turned over 250,000 Enfield rifles to Great Brit- 
ain, and in February lS)4l it also agreed to fulfill a promise made by General 
Marshall in June 1940 to fiarnish Great Britain with an additional 50,000,000 
rounds of small arms ammunition. In neither instance was the transfer tied 
to the destroyer-base deal. As for the B-17's, while the British did not get 
the five out of existing Air Corps stocks that had been promised, they did 
receive an alternative consideration of much greater value. On 16 September, 
after the President and the majority of his Cabinet had decided against an 
attempt to reopen the destroyer-base negotiations in order to include in the 

Hull, Memoirs, I, 835-40; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 765-67; Churchill, 
Their Finest Hour, pp. 410-14. The final texts of the agreements, as well as the Attorney General's 
opinion of 27 August, are in FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, pp. 392-405. 
" New York Times, September 4, 1940. 

Memo of Conv between SW and Mr. Arthur B. Purvis of the British Purchasing Commis- 
sion, 10 Sep 40; Pers Ltr, SW to Secy State, 14 Sep 40. Both in Stimson Diary under these dates. 
These two items reviewed all of the circumstances surrounding this omission and urged that it be 

" New York Times, September 4, 1940. 



agreements the bombers and other material originally proffered, Mr. Roose- 
velt ordered the Army henceforth to split new B-24 bomber production with 
the British on a one-for-one basis, instead of the current distribution of two 
for the United States and one for Great Britain.'*'^' 

In order to reconcile the acquisition of bases in British possessions with 
the Havana agreements entered into six weeks previously. Secretary of State 
Hull insisted that a circular note be sent to the Latin American governments 
informing them of the transaction and announcing that "the resulting facili- 
ties at these bases will, of course, be made available alike to all American 
Republics on the fullest cooperative basis for the common defense of the 
hemisphere.""'' This gesture led to a British query as to whether Mr. Hull's 
note was not really designed as a move to secure additional bases in Latin 
American territory. Further, the British wished to know whether they would 
have rights of equal access in any Latin American bases that might be ob- 
tained by the United States. The latter question was answered by a polite 
negative, but the fact that the British had raised it perhaps had something 
to do with the strictly American development and use of the bases in Brit- 
ain's Atlantic possessions."" 

Under oral instructions issued by Admiral Stark on 20 August, the Joint 
Planning Committee undertook a preliminary study of the prospective British 
base sites and completed it a week before the Destroyer-Base Agreement 
was actually signed. The Navy also took the initiative in establishing the 
board of military and naval experts that (in accordance with the terms of 
the final agreement) would select, jointly with the British, the actual sites 
to be developed as bases. This Army-Navy board departed for Bermuda on 
its first survey mission on 3 September 1940, the day that the Destroyer- 
Base Agreement was announced."' 

In transmitting the Destroyer-Base Agreement to Congress, President 
Roosevelt characterized the acquisition of base rights in eight British pos- 
sessions as "an epochal and far-reaching act of preparation for continental 
defense in the face of grave danger."'" In contrast, the Chief of the Air 
Corps observed "that the transfer of destroyers to the British in exchange 

" Notes on Conf in OCS, 1 7 Sep 40, OPD Records; Stimson Diary, entry of 1 Oct 40; Leighton 
and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43, Ch. I. See Watson, Prewar Plans and Prep- 
arations, pp. 306ff., for the subsequent development of airplane allotments to Great Britain. 
Hull, Memoirs, I, 842. 

Kittredge MS, Ch. 11, pp. 254-55, recording discussions between Vice Adm. Robert L. 
Ghormley and the British Bailey Committee, 17 to 19 September 1940. 

" Report, JPC to CNO and CofS, 28 Aug 40, WPD 4351-5; Memo, SGS for CofS, 3 Sep 40, 
OCS Conf Binder 3. See Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, Ch, XII. 

•'"FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, p. 391- 



for bases is good publicity but that it does not amount to nearly as much 
as it appeared, because these bases we have obtained are no good and will 
require millions of dollars for development."'^' The real value of the new 
bases as defense posts for the Army perhaps lay midway between the two 
estimates. The Army valued most highly those acquired in Newfoundland, 
Bermuda, and Trinidad, and was less impressed with the potential value of 
the other Caribbean sites except as locations for staging fields. When devel- 
oped, the new bases would extend the Army's outpost line of defense east- 
ward into the Atlantic by from several hundred to one thousand miles and 
add materially to the mobility of air defense operations that might be un- 
dertaken along the Atlantic front. The Caribbean bases not only would pro- 
vide additional protection to the Atlantic approaches of the Panama Canal 
but also would facilitate the extension of Army airpower toward the bulge 
of Brazil. 

The Destroyer- Base Agreement unquestionably met with the approval of 
the overwhelming majority of the American people and of their representa- 
tives in Congress. Before details of the proposed agreement had been made 
known to the public, opinion polls had recorded that more than four fifths 
of the American people favored acquiring the British possessions involved 
or at least bases in them; and a nearly two-thirds majority in mid-August 
approved the idea of transferring destroyers to England. Mr. Wendell L, 
Willkie, the Republican presidential candidate, and other leading Republi- 
cans had indorsed both ideas during August. While there was a good deal 
of criticism in and out of Congress of the method employed by the Presi- 
dent in arranging the agreement and much doubt expressed about its legality 
under either national or international law, the terms obtained seemed so ad- 
vantageous to the United States— eight new bases for fifty old destroyers— 
that the American people accepted the destroyer exchange as a genuine bar- 
gain, without, of course, having more than a vague comprehension of its 
long-range implications. The British appear to have accepted it with equal 
enthusiasm, not only because they badly needed the destroyers but also be- 
cause they needed even more a definite sign of open American support against 
the threat of Nazi invasion. 

The significance and implications of the destroyer-base deal were clearly 
recognized by Germany and Japan. As rumors of an impending agreement 
reached Berlin, the German Foreign Office noted that the intention of the 
United States to "bail out" Great Britain was becoming increasingly obvi- 

" Notes on Conf in OCS, 6 Sep 40, OCS Conf Binder 3. 



ous.''- Until the Destroyer- Base Agreement was announced, Hitler seems to 
have been convinced that the United States would remain neutral so long 
as he did not touch the Western Hemisphere. Now both he and Benito 
Mussolini realized that they had to face the possibility of eventual American 
intervention in the war. The Germans privately called the destroyer transfer 
"an openly hostile act," but they did not choose to accept the challenge and 
force the United States into the war.'^' On the other side of the world, Am- 
bassador Joseph C. Grew reported that the Tokyo militarists were equally 
impressed with the destroyer agreement as an indication "that Britain and 
the United States are steadily drawing closer together in mutual defense 
measures" and that, consequently, Germany might not defeat Great Britain 
after all.'^" 

The exchange of destroyers for bases had a profound effect on the devel- 
opment of prewar policy. Whatever rationalizations the United States Gov- 
ernment may have advanced at the time, it is now generally agreed that the 
exchange marked a clear departure from the path of neutrality and a clear 
confirmation of intent to give all aid to Great Britain short of declaring war. 
The United States had, indeed, entered into a limited participation in the 
war, and its national policy henceforth moved toward broader objectives 
than those associated strictly with hemisphere defense.'^' 

American Military Preparations and the War Outlook 
July-October 1940 

The war plans and defense measures adopted by the United States in the 
summer of 1940 have been reviewed in the preceding pages as if they were 

''^ The Private War Journal of General Franz Haider, 9 vols, (hereafter cited as Haider Journal), 
IV, 170, entry of 23 Aug 40, OCMH files. 

" United States Navy Department, Fuehrer Conferences on Mailers Dealing with the German 
Navy. 1940, 2 vols. (Office of Naval Intelligence: 1947) (hereafter cited as Fuehrer Conferences, 
1940), II, 17-21 entry of 6 Sep 40. Two additional volumes covering 1941 and one volume cover- 
ing 1942 (hereafter cited as Fuehrer Conferences, 1941 and Fuehrer Conferences, 1942) were also 
published in 1947. 

Both President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill had weighed the probable German 
reaction in advance and had decided that Hitler would not take any forceful retaliatory measures. 
See Churchill, Their Finest Hour, p. 404. In a letter of 22 August to Senator David 1. Walsh, 
President Roosevelt stated: "In regard to German retaliation, I think you can rest quietly on that 
score. If Germany . . . wants to fight us, Germany will do so on any number of trumped-up 
charges." F.D.R.: His Personal Letters, 1928-194}, 2 vols., edited by Elliott Roosevelt (New York: 
Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950) (hereafter cited as FDR Personal Letters), II, 1056-57. 

Telg, Ambassador Grew to Dept of State, 12 Sep 40, United States Department of State, 
Peace and War, p. 569. 

Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 775-76, draws a similar conclusion, as also 
do the more nearly contemporary interpretations of Forrest Davis and Ernest K. Lindley, How War 
Came (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942), p. 107, and of Hanson W. Baldwin, United We 
Stand (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1941), p. 107. 



interrelated aspects of a single program for national and hemisphere defense. 
Actually, the Army had adopted two programs: the first, an immediate pro- 
gram of emergency measures to be taken in the event of imminent military 
threat; the second, a long-range program to make the United States and the 
rest of the hemisphere reasonably secure from military attack by the autumn 
of 1941 and thereafter. Mr. Charles R. Stillman, business manager of Time 
magazine, after a month's research in Washington during June and July 
1940, submitted a shrewd analysis of these two programs to the Chief of 
Staffs office for comment. Mr. Stillman failed to elicit the desired comment, 
but staff observations on his points provide an illuminating insight into Army 
thinking and planning at the time.'^* 

The immediate program provided for the deployment in 1940 of about 
100,000 troops to strategic points from Newfoundland to the Brazilian bulge. 
It was designed to meet a Rainbow 4 situation as defined in the new joint 
war plan of June 1940— that is, the defeat of Great Britain as well as of 
France and the surrender or destruction of the British and French Fleets. It 
did not contemplate operations by United States forces south of the Brazilian 
bulge. The Army units to be used were to be drawn principally from the 
National Guard, and it was partly for this reason that the Army from June 
onward urged immediate induction of the Guard.'^ To execute these meas- 
ures would have required very close collaboration and co-operation with the 
forces of Canada to the north and Latin America to the south. The staff con- 
versations undertaken in haste in June and July 1940 were of course aimed 
at achievement of these ends. The Army considered the Havana agreements 
of July 1940 of "enormous importance" in carrying out the immediate pro- 
gram in whole or in part, if it became necessary to do so. Finally, this pro- 
gram was a fluid one, the requirements for which changed from day to day 
as the war situation changed. The Army's conviction from September 1940 
onward that Great Britain would probably hold out at least through the 
winter of 1940-41 meant that the immediate measures would probably not 
have to be carried out.'^" 

OCS brief of Stillman Memo, 19 Jul 40; Memo, WPD for CofS, 22 Jul 40; and other papers. 
AH in WPD 4250-5. See also Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 
1, 1939 to June 30, 1941, to the Secretary of War, p. 5. 

" On 4 June the War Plans Division had proposed the initial induction and training of thirty- 
two Guard regiments of various sorts that were to be deployed if necessary to Alaska, Newfound- 
land, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, the Trinidad-Venezuela area, and the Natal area. Memo, WPD 
for CofS, 4 Jun 40, WPD 4} 10-1. 

" This and the following two paragraphs are based principally on the references cited in footnote 
96, above. 



The goal of the long-range or "big" program was to expand the Army 
as rapidly as possible to a 1 ,400,000-man total in order to give the United 
States a first-class Army as well as a first-class Navy to defend the Western 
Hemisphere against Old World aggression. This program was "based on a 
power policy in contemplation of an indefinite period of armed peace or semi- 
war" for the United States.'' Whether or not the United States could carry 
it out depended primarily on maintenance of Anglo-American naval su- 
premacy in the Atlantic. The decision in July 1940 to keep the bulk of the 
United States Fleet in the Pacific to check Japan and guard the supply of 
vital raw materials such as rubber and tin was made on the assumption that 
the fleet could be moved swiftly to the Atlantic if necessary. The Panama 
Canal was therefore considered the key to the successful build-up of Ameri- 
can military strength— the Army expressing its vehement concurrence in 
Mr. Stillman's characterization of the Canal as "the most strategic spot in 
the world today." 

So far as the Army was concerned, the principal conflict between these 
two programs was the necessity under the immediate program of keeping 
an eflfective fighting force in being as against the need under the long-range 
program of using the existing Regular Army as a training and cadre nucleus 
for the expanded army that was being forged. When inducted, the great 
majority of National Guard units were found to be far from ready for emer- 
gency deployment to strategic points along the Atlantic front; they, too, 
needed to be trained. Because of this conflict, it looked to outside critics as 
though the long-range program had been more or less foisted on the Army's 
General Staff and that, if left to its own devices, the staff would have pre- 
ferred to concentrate on immediate rather than future preparedness."" Actu- 
ally, the General Staff in July 1940 considered both programs essential and 
was working with equal fervor for fulfillment of each. Though the Army's 
military leaders were something less than enthusiastic about giving much 
material aid to Britain, they were well aware that the longer the British held 
out, the lesser the likelihood of their having to execute the immediate pro- 
gram and the greater the amount of thought and energy they could devote 
to carrying out the long-range program. 

In any case, the armed services as well as the President felt in July 1940 
that they needed better information on the chances of Britain's survival. They 

OCS brief of Stillman Memo, 19 Jul 40, WPD 4250-5. 

"" Mr. Stillman made this surmise in July 1940; Hanson Baldwin stressed the same point in 
his book. United We Stand, written in or before February 1941. 



appointed special observers who, after a personal briefing from President 
Roosevelt, went to Great Britain in early August to survey the situation. 
The Army's emissaries were General Strong, chief of the War Plans Divi- 
sion, and Maj. Gen. Delos C Emmons, Commanding General, General 
Headquarters Air Force. Generals Strong and Emmons, when they returned 
to Washington about 20 September, expressed a general optimism over Great 
Britain's prospects, though General Emmons was less convinced than Gen- 
eral Strong that Britain could successfully resist an invasion.'"^ 

The reports from Britain helped in the formulation on 25 September of 
a new joint Army-Navy estimate of the war situation and its bearing on the 
position of the United States. The planners assumed that Germany and Italy 
could not launch a major military attack against the Western Hemisphere 
until they had defeated Great Britain and gained naval control of the eastern 
Atlantic. It now appeared that British naval power based on the British Isles 
could be maintained at least for another six months. Even if the Axis Powers 
then gained control of the bulk of the British Fleet, it would take them six 
additional months to assimilate British naval strength and prepare it for of- 
fensive operations across the Atlantic. The United States, therefore, probably 
had at least a year's grace in which to complete its military preparations. By 
the end of that year (roughly, by October 1941), American mobilization un- 
der the long-range program was expected to produce the 1 ,400,000-man 
Army and enlarged Navy that would be strong enough to resist successfully 
any Old World military aggression against the New. During this year, too, 
the United States could afford to keep the bulk of its fleet in the Pacific to 
check Japan. On the other hand, if, as seemed increasingly probable, Japan 
should in the meantime strike southward in the western Pacific, the United 
States could not afford to commit a major portion of its naval strength in an 
effort to stop Japanese aggression. American naval power must be kept mo- 
bile, free to shift to the Atlantic to deal with any emergency that might arise 

Even if the British Isles and the British Fleet did not succumb, the United 
States had to be ready to meet specific Axis advances with suitable counter- 
measures. If Germany moved into Spain and Portugal or threatened their 
Atlantic islands, the United States might have to occupy the Azores. If Gi- 

'0^ Notes on Confs in CXS, 21 and 23 Sep 40, OCS Conf Binder i; Watson, Prewar Plans and 
Preparations, pp. 11}- 15. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 25 Sep 40, WPD 4321-9, Sec. I, sub: Estimate of the Position of 
the United States in Relation to the World Situation. This estimate was probably the joint handi- 
work of Colonel Clark of the Army War Plans Division and Capt. Russell S. Crenshaw of the 
Navy War Plans Division. 



braltar fell, permitting the Italian Fleet to debouch into the Atlantic, and if 
also the Germans moved into French North and West Africa, particularly 
if they made Dakar a naval and air base, the armed forces of the United States 
would undoubtedly be required to protect the airfields and ports of north- 
eastern Brazil against a Nazi attack. Even if the Nazis made no move to- 
ward French West Africa, they might inspire widespread subversive activity 
within the Latin American nations. In that event the nations to the south 
might be expected to call on the United States for military assistance. If, on 
the other hand, and against expectation, the British Fleet were destroyed or 
surrendered, then within three months the United States would have to se- 
cure "all Atlantic outpost positions from Bahia in Brazil northward to in- 
clude Greenland." Should none of these particular contingencies arise during 
the ensuing year, the United States could engage in an orderly expansion of 
its military power and build up its existing overseas outposts and the new 
bases acquired from Great Britain.'"'' 

Japan's formal adherence to the Axis on 27 September 1940 did not ma- 
terially alter this outlook. The United States did not need the new Axis pact 
to remind it of the dangers of becoming involved in a war with Japan in 
the Pacific or of joining openly in the war against Germany and Italy in the 
Atlantic. War with Japan would not only throw the long-range mobiliza- 
tion program out of gear but also would virtually stop further aid to Great 
Britain. With the bulk of American naval power being maintained in the 
eastern Pacific, ostensibly as a deterrent to Japanese aggression, the Navy 
was as unprepared as the Army for action in the Atlantic. 

The safety of the United States nevertheless seemed far better assured by 
early October 1940 than it had appeared to be during the hectic days of May 
and June. This assurance flowed not so much from a substantial improve- 
ment in the immediate military preparedness of the United States as from 
the stanchness with which the British were defending their homeland. It 
now appeared that the United States would have time to prepare its defenses. 
It needed time. At a conference in early October, General Marshall spoke 
of the Army's tactical air force as "non-existent, as it has been turned into a 
school." The United States, he continued, had practically no antiaircraft am- 
munition, and there were critical shortages in other types of munitions. 
General Strong observed that supply and shipping shortages would make it 
impossible for the Army within the succeeding fifteen months to send any- 
where emergency expeditions of more than sixty thousand men in fully 
equipped units. While this situation lasted— and, irrespective of aid to Brit- 

Jt Estimate of Situation, 25 Sep 40, WPD 4321-9. 



ain, it would last in declining measure until the fall of ISMl— the defense of 
the United States would have to depend primarily on what General Marshall 
called "our magnificent fleet." Even Secretary of War Stimson, who cus- 
tomarily advocated more forceful policies than his military advisers, "accepted 
the proposition that our Fleet was the only reserve we had for national de- 
fense . . . and, in consequence, it should not be committed in any theater 
unless or until it developed that our national existence was at stake in that 

When President Roosevelt said in an address on 12 October that the 
United States "wants no war with any nation," he presumably spoke with 
sincerity.'"'' In June he had insisted that the mobilization then being initiated 
was "a defensive program, not aimed at world affairs which do not concern 
the Western Hemisphere." The difficulty lay in the fact that a totalitarian 
conquest of the Old World would inevitably concern the nations of the New 
and menace their freedom and security. The best hope of preserving the se- 
curity and freedom of the United States, pending the completion of its own 
military preparations, now seemed to lie in buttressing Great Britain as the 
remaining bulwark against the military might and unprincipled leadership of 
Nazi Germany. 

Notes on SLC mtg, 5 Oct 40, SLC Min, Vol. 1, Item 58. 
Memo, Gen Strong, WPD, for CofS, 1 Oct 40, WPD 4175-15. 
FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, p. 464. 
'»» Pers Ltr, President to SW Woodring, 20 Jun 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 


The Axis Threat 

In assessing the danger to American security from Axis aggression in 
1940 and eariy 1941, President Roosevelt and his advisers always considered 
Nazi Germany the greatest menace. They believed that Fascist Italy held no 
threat at all, at least to American interests in the Western Hemisphere. They 
viewed Japan as a very real threat to American interests in the Pacific, but 
not one of the same magnitude as that presented by Germany in the Atlantic. 
Events were to prove that Japan had both the means and a more immedi- 
ately deadly intent to challenge the United States. Nevertheless, American 
leaders were probably correa in focusing their attention on Germany and its 
unpredictable Fuehrer, and therefore on the Atlantic aspects of the war, at 
least until after the Nazi-Soviet conflict began in June 1941. Until then, Ger- 
man land and air forces available for operations in the Atlantic area were 
much greater than those of Great Britain and the United States combined. 
If Germany's Navy had been relatively as large as its land and air forces, the 
story of World War II might well have been very different. 

The German Position, Summer 1940 

Although the United States based its plans and preparations for hem- 
isphere defense on the assumption that the Nazis and their partners in ag- 
gression had embarked on a calculated scheme of world conquest, a scheme 
that would inevitably bring the New World under military attack, it is now 
known that Germany in 1940 and 1941 had no specific plans for attacking 
any part of the Western Hemisphere.' Indeed, the basic objective of German 
policy toward the United States until Pearl Harbor was to keep it out of di- 
rect participation in the war. On the other hand, the general attitude of the 
Hitler regime was at least as hostile toward the United States as that of the 
Roosevelt administration and of the great majority of the American people 
was toward Germ any. - 

' German efforts from 1940 onward to establish and maintain weather stations on Greenland's 
east coast might be construed as an exception to this generalization. 

- Hans Louis Trefousse, Germany and American Neutrality, 1939—1941 (New York: Bookman 
Associates, 1951), describes the evolution of attitudes during the prewar period in detail. 



To say that Germany had no specific plans for attacking the United States 
or any other part of the New World is more or less beside the point in apprais- 
ing the measures taken at the time to meet the possibility of German mili- 
tary action. When the Germans won their quick land victory over France 
and Great Britain in June 1940, they had no specific plans for attacking any- 
where else, but they did have the means. They had a military machine over- 
whelmingly powerful in land and air forces, backed by an immediate war 
industrial capacity far greater than that of any other nation. These means 
were nt the disposal of leaders utterly devoid of a sense of international 
morality. Given this military preponderance and type of leadership, it was 
inevitable that the German nation, hindered rather than aided by its Italian 
partner, would strike out in new directions after the fall of France. What- 
ever the professions of Hitler and other Nazi leaders, the German military 
machine was not likely to stop until it was defeated. This was the German 

Until the summer of 1940, Hitler and his principal advisers gave but scant 
attention to the possibility of American intervention— direct or indirect— 
in Europe. The German leaders had taken the neutrality acts of 1935 and 
1937 more or less at their face value and had assumed that the United States 
would maintain an isolationist position so long as Germany made no move 
that could be interpreted as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine.' Hitler ex- 
pressed the opinion in 1939 that the United States would never intervene 
in another general European war because of the "unpleasant experiences" and 
financial loss it had suffered in World War I. In July 1940 he reiterated this 
last point, observing that the United States "lost" $10,000,000,000 by par- 
ticipating in the first world war and "got back" only $1,400,000,000.^ 
Although the German military attache in Washington transmitted reason- 
ably accurate estimates of American military preparations, his reports carried 
little weight among German military leaders. They were convinced that the 
United States Army of 1939 was too small to take an active part in a European 
war, that it would take the United States several years to develop substantial 
military strength, and that even if the Army were rapidly increased in numbers 
it would still lack experienced leadership and therefore be no match for the 
Wehrmacht^ In any event. Hitler expected to complete his European con- 
quests before the United States could possibly intervene.'' 

> Dept of State Interv with Dr. Erich Kordt, 1 5- 16 Dec 45, OCMH Geog M-Germany-}83.6. 

* WD Interv with Field Marshal Hermann Goering, 25 Jul 45, OCMH MS ETHlNT-31; 
Fuehrer Conferences, 1940. 1, 81. 

' Statement of General Franz Haider, 28 Feb 47; Statement of General Kurt von Tippelskirch, 
28 Feb 47. Both in OCMH MS B-809. WD Interv with Marshal Goering, 25 Jul 45. 

'Statement of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, 24 Jul 45, OCMH MS A-912; WD Interv 
with General Walter Warlimont, 28 Jul and 9 Aug 45, OCMH MS ETHINT-2 and ETHINT-8. 



Despite their generally contemptuous attitude toward the American mili- 
tary potential, the Germans after war began in September 1939 tried to avoid 
military incidents that might be interpreted by the United States as hostile 
acts. On Hitler's repeated orders, the German Navy until the spring of 1941 
carefully respected the Atlantic neutrality zone patrolled by the United States 
Navy.' The Nazis did engage in manifold activities to stir up trouble for 
the United States in Latin America, and within the country they went as far 
as they could to sow dissension among the American people; but these 
activities seem to have had the negative objective of weakening the United 
States and undermining the front of hemisphere solidarity, rather than the 
positive aim of preparing the New World for German conquest. 

When the Nazis launched their attack on the West in the spring of 1940 
they acted on a carefully calculated operational plan that achieved a quick 
and decisive victory far sooner than they themselves had anticipated, and 
therefore they did not have ready any plan for operations thereafter. Hitler 
in May and June 1940 seems to have hoped to end the war in the West as 
soon as possible, to persuade both France and Great Britain to make peace 
on reasonable terms, and then to consolidate his position as master of western 
Europe. In part, his plans were shaped by the pressure President Roosevelt 
was bringing to bear on both Italy and Germany to curb their aggressive 
actions. In a letter to Mussolini on 3 May, a week before the assault on 
France, Hitler remarked that he thought "the undertone of threat ringing 
through all of Roosevelt's utterances is sufficient grounds for us to be on 
our guard and bring the war to a close as quickly as possible." " The Presi- 
dent's Charlottesville address of 10 June made a great impression on Hitler. 
Through a devious channel, he hastened to assure the United States Govern- 
ment that his policy was "Europe for the Europeans and America for the 
Americans," and he also disclaimed any desire to destroy the British Empire. 
America's announced policy of aiding Britain and the other nations fighting 
Germany and Italy brought a new conviction among German leaders that 
the United States would eventually intervene in the war if it lasted.'' 

The French request for an armistice on 17 June found the Germans un- 
prepared to give an immediate answer since they had not decided on either 
the temporary or the long-range demands that they would impose on France. 
After consulting with Mussolini (and rejecting his proposals). Hitler pre- 
sented relatively lenient armistice terms to the French on 21 June. He did 

' Various items in the 1940 and 1941 volumes of Fuehrer Conferences; Trefousse, Germany and 
American Neutrality, 1939-41, pp. 40ff. 

" Quoted in Haider Journal, III, 189, entry of 4 May 40. 
' Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 517-18. 



not ask for control of the French Fleet, nor did he require the French to 
open their African territories to German occupation. To the Italians, Hitler 
explained that he wanted to keep the French Fleet out of British hands. He 
also felt that the presentation of harsher terms might have led to a with- 
drawal of the new Petain government to North Africa. Hitler's primary aim 
was to get the French out of the war in order to widen the rift that had 
developed between the French and British and thus to weaken Great Brit- 
ain's ability further to resist. The Germans expected the British people to 
see the hopelessness of their military position, to overthrow the Churchill 
ministry, and to make peace on terms that would leave the British Empire 
virtually intact but impotent to interfere with Germany's mastery of western 

Before the downfall of France, Hitler had not planned an invasion of 
Great Britain. ' ' By the end of June, the Germans began to realize that the 
British were determined to fight on. "Britain probably still needs one mote 
demonstration of our military might before she gives in and leaves us a free 
hand in the East," General Franz Haider, the Chief of the German Army's 
General Staff, recorded in his journal on 30 June 1940. On 16 July Hitler 
ordered the immediate preparation of detailed invasion plans. The decision 
to fight it out with England reoriented the whole German outlook toward 
the Atlantic front. To beat Britain to its knees would require a German- 
controlled front extending from the North Cape to Morocco. The Germans 
also planned to seize Iceland, occupy strategic positions in West Africa, and 
claim the French Congo and Belgian Congo as war booty. 

Before the decision to invade Great Britain had been made, the German 
Naval Staff prepared a general program for base expansion and ship con- 
struction designed to make Germany a pre-eminent naval power in the 
Atlantic. In plans prepared for conferences with Hitler on 20 June and 11 
July, the Navy advocated annexation of Iceland and its exploitation as a 
naval and air base; development of bases either in the Azores or in both the 
Canary and Cape Verde Islands; creation of a large united German colonial 

'"Dept of State Interv with Dr. Kordt, 15-16 Dec 45; WD Interv with General Warlimont, 
9 Aug 45; Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 47-49. 

" "We did not think about the possibility of invading England until after the surprisingly 
rapid and complete victory over France and the British auxiliary forces." Statement of General 
Alfred Jodl, 28 Jul 45, OCMH MS A- 914. Actually, the German Navy had drafted preliminary 
plans for conducting a cross-Channel invasion soon after the war began in 1939. Churchill, Their 
Finest Hour. pp. 301-02. 

Haider Journal, IV, entry of 1} Jul 40; WD Interv with General Warlimont, 28 Jul 45; 
Helmuth Greiner, Operation SEELOEWE and Intensified Air Warfare Against England up to 30 
October 1940, OCMH MS C-059a. The Greiner manuscript contains a complete r^sum^ of Ger- 
man plans for the English invasion, July-October 1940. 



empire in central Africa; and construction of an Atlantic battleship force that 
would neutralize British and American naval power. In his discussion with 
Hitler on 11 July, the commander in chief of the German Navy, Admiral 
Erich Raeder, pointed out the particular importance of Dakar as a base for 
conducting warfare in the Atlantic. Hitler at this time seems to have gone 
no further toward approving these proposals than expressing a desire "to 
acquire one of the Canary Islands from Spain in exchange for French 
Morocco." Until he decided to invade England, Hitler himself seems to 
have taken comparatively little interest in plans for expansion into Africa or 
extension of German naval power in the Atlantic. His brief interest in Ice- 
land expired when he was told by his advisers that it would be impossible 
to construct airfields there. As already noted, Great Britain had begun a 
military occupation of Iceland on 10 May, and by the end of July relatively 
strong British and Canadian contingents had been brought in to defend the 
island— a factor that undoubtedly also contributed to the German decision 
not to attempt its invasion." 

The other measures advocated by the German Navy became more attrac- 
tive to the Nazi Fuehrer, primarily as adjuncts to a showdown fight with 
Great Britain. Fortunately for the United States, Hitler seems to have had 
very little realization of the strategic significance of German bases in French 
West Africa and on the eastern Atlantic islands for their own sake. Ger- 
many's military attache in the United States during the prewar period, Gen- 
eral Friedrich von Boetticher, stated after the war that, following the fall of 
France in 1940, he had stressed in his reports the strategic significance of 
controlling the South Atlantic-African-Red Sea belt. But, he added, Hitler 
and his intimate advisers 

. . . had no clear idea of the geographical requisites for a world war. The significance of 
the British Empire's life-line through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, and the im- 
portance of the Middle East were not grasped at the time. . . . There was also no clear 
idea of the strategic significance of the narrowing of the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil 
and Africa, and of the land and air routes across central Africa from the Atlantic Ocean 
to the Red Sea.'^' 

On 10 July the German Air Force began its assault in force on Britain.' 
After 16 July the German Army and Navy staflJs worked feverishly on in- 
vasion plans, for they realized that an invasion must either take place in the 
early fall or be postponed at least until the following spring. At the same 

" Fuehrer Conferences. 1940. I, 65-66, 73-79. 
I" IbU. p. 69. 

" WD Interv with General Warlimont, 28 Jul 45; F. H. Hinsley, Hitler's Strategy (Cambridge, 
England: University Press, 1951), pp. 65-67. 

Statement of General Friedrich von Boetticher, 27 Apr 47, OCMH MS B-484. 



time, the Germans attempted to secure a revision of the armistice arrange- 
ments with France in order to obtain French consent to the establishment 
of German bases in southern France and along the Mediterranean and At- 
lantic coasts of French North Africa.'^ From their beginning Hitler appears 
to have viewed the preparations for a full-scale Atlantic war with misgiv- 
ings. On 13 July General Haider recorded in his journal; 

. the Fuehrer is greatly puzzled by Britain's persisting unwillingness to make peace. 
He sees the answer (as we do) in Britain's hope on Russia, and therefore counts on hav- 
ing to compel her by main force to agree to peace. Actually that is much against his grain. 
The reason is that a military defeat of Britain will bring about the disintegration of the 
British Empire. This would not be of any benefit to Germany. German blood would be 
shed to accomplish something that would benefit only Japan, the United States and others. 

Very quickly Hitler came to the conclusion that Britain's reason for continu- 
ing the war was its hope for aid from the United States and the Soviet Union. 
He discounted the ability of the United States to render much aid to Britain, 
and he assumed that the British did also; the Russians were another matter. 
As of 21 July, the Nazi Fuehrer felt that Britain's obduracy could best be 
overcome by confronting the British with a political front embracing Spain, 
Italy, and the Soviet Union.'" 

Ten days later, after the German Army and Navy had presented their 
blueprints for an invasion of England, Hitler arrived at a very different de- 
cision. While the Army and Navy told him that they could undertake an 
invasion in September, provided that Britain had been sufficiently softened 
up by air bombardment, that the Germans had gained air superiority over 
the invasion area, that the weather was extremely favorable, etc., etc., it was 
rather c'ear that neither the German land nor sea forces had any stomach for 
the invasion project. Neither did Hitler. The alternative to invasion was a 
long, drawn-out effort to reduce the British Isles by air and submarine ac- 
tion, which would take at least a year or two. Again observing that Britain's 
hope for survival lay in the prospect of aid from the Soviet Union and the 
United States, Hitler came to the conclusion that by beating the Russians 
first he could knock out both props that sustained the British: by eliminat- 
ing the Soviet Union as a Far Eastern power, he would enormously strengthen 
the power of Japan, and by thus increasing the peril to American interests 
in the Pacific, would stay any American intervention in the European war. 
Furthermore, the Soviet Union, initially the partner-in-conquest of Nazi Ger- 
many, had shown increasing signs of restiveness and distrust since the fall 

" Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 60-61. 

" Both Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, I, 81, and Haider Journal, IV, 126-27, contain reports of the 
2 1 July conference. 



of France. "With Russia smashed," Hitler is reponed to have said, "Britain's 
last hope would be shattered." Therefore, the Fuehrer concluded: "Russia's 
destruction must ... be made a part of this struggle. Spring 41." 

Despite Hitler's stated decision on 31 July 1940 to turn against the So- 
viet Union, preparations for the English invasion went on during August 
and early September, the period of the "Battle of Britain." But the German 
Air Force did not knock out British airpower, the first and most important 
prerequisite for a successful invasion. In mid-September Hitler virtually de- 
cided on the indefinite postponement of the invasion of Great Britain, 
though at the same time he ordered a continuance of invasion preparations 
and kept these in motion until mid-October.^° The air bombardment of Brit- 
ain was also maintained, but on a diminished scale after October.^' 

The Tripartite Pact and Japan 

Hitler's decision to postpone the invasion of Great Britain coincided with 
the negotiation by the European Axis partners of a tripartite alliance with 
Japan, signed on 27 September 1940. This pact provided that a military at- 
tack on any member of the new Axis triumvirate by any nation not then en- 
gaged in either the European or the Sino-Japanese war would invoke the 
political, economic, and military assistance of the other two. It was aimed 
primarily at the United States, secondarily at the Soviet Union. By it, Ger- 
many and Italy gave a much freer hand to Japanese aggression in the western 
Pacific, at the same time securing at least a paper promise that Japan would 
attack the United States if the Uriited States attacked German or Italian forces 
in the eastern Atlantic theater. By the pact the Nazis hoped to keep the United 
States out of the European war and away from all-out preparations for war 
until Germany had completed its conquest of Europe." 

The signing of the Tripartite Pact also coincided with the expansion of 
the war in both the European and the Asiatic theaters. In mid-September 
the Italian Army launched its North African drive against British forces in 

" Haider Journal, IV, 144. 

" Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, II, 22-23; Haider Journal, IV, 193-94; Statement of General Jodl, 
28 Jul 45; Greiner, Operation SEELOEWE and Intensified Air Warfare Against England up to 30 
Oaober 1940. 

" One reason for the curtailment cf German air attacks against Britain was the German wish 
to conserve and build up their air strength against American aircraft production, which was sched- 
uled to get into its stride by the spring of 1941. "We shall have to keep an air fleet and strong 
fighter forces in readiness against that time." Haider Journal, IV, 224, entry of 7 Oct 40. 

" Stimson Diary, enuy of 4 Oct 40; Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 Nov 40, WPD 4175-15; Hull, 
Memoirs, I, 908-09; William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Undeclared War (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1953), Ch. 1. 



Egypt, and in late October Mussolini began the invasion of Greece. The 
Japanese made their first overt move outside of China in these same months 
by occupying northern French Indochina, ostensibly as a means of prosecut- 
ing the Sino-Japanese War, actually to prepare Indochina as a base of opera- 
tions against Singapore and the Dutch East Indies." 

In the Japanese plans and actions of 1940 and early 1941 there was less 
immediate but more ominous future danger to the United States than in the 
German. Germany's victory in Europe had once more aroused the militant 
Japanese advocates of expansion. Capitalizing on the distress of the Western 
Allies, the Japanese in July forced Britain to close the Burma Road and 
France to yield concessions in Indochina. In a series of fateful cabinet meet- 
ings extending from July to early October, Japan forged the decision to 
attack southward as soon as circumstances permitted. This decision envisioned 
the establishment of Japanese control in China and the colonial expansion 
of Japan to include Indochina, Thailand, Malaya, Burma, and the Dutch and 
British East Indies. The Japanese hoped to conclude a nonaggression pact 
with the Soviet Union in order to guard their northern flank during the 
southward advance. They also wanted to negotiate a nonaggression treaty 
with the United States, in which the Americans would agree to stop encour- 
aging Chinese Nationalist resistance to Japan, acquiesce in Japan's establish- 
ment of a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" with dimensions 
approximating those specified above, and in return accept a Japanese guar- 
antee of Philippine independence. If, instead, the United States insisted on 
resisting Japan's expansion, then the Philippines and Guam were to be added 
to Japan's Far East empire." 

Ambassador Grew reported from Tokyo in December 1940 that in his 
opinion Japan had become "openly and unashamedly one of the predatory 
nations" and that only "insuperable obstacles" could stop the Japanese from 
pushing their southward advance." The Japanese, recognizing the slight 
chance of obtaining American acquiescence in their expansion, began in 
January 1941 to hatch the plan for a surprise and crippling attack on the 
United States Fleet at its Pearl Harbor base. Rumors of this plan reached the 
Department of State before the end of January but were dismissed without 

" On Japan's design, fx^c Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East 
(JAG, SSUSA: 1949) (hereafter cited as Far East Judgment), pp. 848, 885, 948, and Langer and 
Gleason, Undeclared War. pp. 48-52. 

" Far East Judgment, Ch. VII, pp. 845-48, 948. Herbert Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor (Prince- 
ton: Princeton University Press, 1950), contains a detailed narrative of the development of Japa- 
nese plans. 

" Ltr, Ambassador Grew to President, 14 Dec 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



much ado.-** The United States also knew that the Japanese were gathering 
detailed information about American defense preparations, particularly those 
along the Pacific coast and in the Pacific outposts of Alaska, Hawaii, and 
Panama. The Navy was kept busy investigating rumors that Japanese sub- 
marines were reconnoitering in Pacific waters, especially in the vicinity of 
Hawaii." The Japanese were indeed beginning their preparations for war 
against the United States; but because these preparations would require many 
months to complete, and because the Japanese preferred to carry out their 
expansion if possible without a war with the Americans, they authorized 
their new ambassador to the United States to negotiate an agreement toward 
this end. Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, after a preliminary talk with Presi- 
dent Roosevelt on l4 February, began his discussions with Secretary Hull in 
March.^" The arrival of a new ambassador in Washington eased the tension 
over the Far Eastern situation that had characterized the preceding few 
months, though sober analysis should have indicated the small chance of a 
mutually satisfactory American-Japanese agreement. 

The Gibraltar- Africa Project 

After Japan's adherence to the Axis in September 1940, Hitler concen- 
trated on plans for a limited offensive in the Mediterranean area that could 
be carried out before his projected attack on Soviet Russia. At the end of 
July German Army leaders had agreed that a decisive blow to British power 
in the Mediterranean, by the capture of Gibraltar and Suez, was the best 
immediate alternative to an invasion of Great Britain. An attack on Gibraltar 
seemed the most feasible initial step, if Spanish collaboration could be 
secured. Spain was already bound to Germany by a treaty of friendship and 
had shown its kinship with the Axis partners by seizing the international 
zone of Tangier in June 1940. German inquiries in Spain in late July led to 
a Spanish overture, transmitted through the German ambassador, proposing 
entry into the war on the side of Germany and Italy. Spain would attack 
Gibraltar, in return for extensive German military and economic assistance, 
and also for a German guarantee that in the peace settlement Spain would 
acquire Gibraltar, French Morocco, Oran, and an expansion of Spain's central 
African possessions. General Francisco Franco also made known his terms to 

'^Far East Judgment. Ch. VII, pp. 905-06; Hull, Memoirs. II, 984; Joseph C. Grew, Ten Yean 
in japan (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944), p. 368. 

Translated Japanese msg, Tokyo to Washington, 15 Feb 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 12, pp. 
311-13; Memo, Dir Navy WPD for CNO, 15 Feb 41, Ibid.. Pt, 15, p, 1861, 

^* Feis, Koad to Pearl Harbor, pp. 160, 17 Iff. 



Mussolini, who gave them a vague blessing. During August Hitler and his 
military advisers tentatively approved a plan for a Spanish attack on Gibral- 
tar, with large but camouflaged German air and artillery support."^ Spain 
made these overtures, it may be noted, at a moment when the early defeat of 
Great Britain seemed assured. Later, when Britain's downfall appeared less 
likely, Spanish ardor for entering the war cooled, while at the same time 
German enthusiasm for the Gibraltar operation mounted. 

During the next two months the German plan for an attack on Gibral- 
tar broadened into a project for an operation that, if it had been carried out 
successfully, would have naturally led to the establishment of German con- 
trol in northern and western Africa and the adjacent Atlantic islands, and 
ultimately to the reconstruction of a German colonial empire in central 
Africa. During the unsuccessful British-Free French attack on Dakar on 

23- 25 September, the Petain government retaliated by bombing Gibraltar. 
These incidents further embittered Anglo-French relations and opened to 
Hitler the prospect of pursuing the Gibraltar- Africa project with Vichy 
French as well as with Spanish collaboration. 

Hitler himself was particularly anxious to establish German forces in the 
Cape Verde and Azores Islands. The former would cover the establishment 
of a German naval base at Dakar, and the Azores would become a base for 
future air operations against the United States, if it became more directly 
involved in the war. Fortunately for the United States, neither the German 
Navy nor the Air Force believed at this time that it had the means to cap- 
ture and hold positions in the Azores.'" Besides their quest for bases and 
colonies, the Germans wanted to gain military control of North Africa in 
order to prevent the execution of any current or future British or American 
plans for invading this area and using it as a base of operations against the 
European continent.^' 

" Haider Journal, fV, 140-41, entry of JO Jul 40; Memo of German Ambassador in Madrid, 
Berlin, 8 Aug 40; Ltr, Franco to Mussolini, 15 Aug 40; Ltr, Mussolini to Franco, 25 Aug 40. Last 
three in United States Department of State, The Spanish Government and the Axis (Washington; 
March 1946), pp. 3-8. Helmuth Greiner, Operation FELIX, OCMH MS C-065h; British Cabi- 
net Office, Hist Br, "Operation FELIX: German Plans for Spain and the Capture of Gibraltar 
(June 1950)," Pt. I, Political Considerations, pp. 7-8, in Axis Plans and Operations in the Medi- 
terranean, September 1939-February 1941. The following paragraphs are also based in part on 
information derived from these four sources. 

On the Azores project in particular, see: Ltr, Maj. Freiherr von Falkenstein to an unidenti- 
fied general, 29 Oct 40, Office of United States Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis 
Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Opinion and Judgment (Washington: 1946), III, 289; 
Report of Conf between Adm Raeder and Hitler, 14 Nov 40, Fuehrer Conferences, 1940,11, 40-41; 
Greiner, Operation FELIX. 

" Report of Conf between Adm Raeder and Hitler, 26 Sep 40, Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, II, 

24- 26. 



Germany had plenty of military means to carry out the projected Gibraltar- 
Africa operation and probably could have done so in the fall and winter of 
15>40^1 without unduly interfering with the projected Soviet invasion sched- 
uled for 1941. The real check came when Hitler tried to reconcile the con- 
flicting interests and claims of Italy, France, and Spain. Not having asked 
for control over French African possessions at the time of the armistice. 
Hitler now had the difficult task of persuading the French to "co-operate" 
by allowing the Germans access to key positions in French Africa and also 
persuading them to permit transfer of certain French territories to Italy and 
Spain. If Hitler pressed the French too severely, he believed that their 
African leaders might switch to the British camp. On the other hand, to 
satisfy both Italian and Spanish minimum pretensions would have absorbed 
most of French Africa, leaving nothing for Germany itself Besides, the 
Gibraltar-Africa scheme could not be carried out except collaboratively with 
Italy and Spain, and from the military point of view both nations were 
dangerous liabilities. By early October, it appeared that a "reconciliation of 
conflicting French, Italian and Spanish interests in Africa [was] possible 
only by a gigantic fraud." 

Hitler's much-publicized meetings with French, Spanish, and Italian 
leaders during October appear to have been a personal attempt to lay a 
groundwork for this "fraud." Nevertheless, in the end this undertaking 
proved too much for even Hitler's mastery of the art." What Hitler appar- 
ently hoped to do was to satisfy everyone after Britain's defeat at the expense 
of Britain's African empire. He conferred with Mussolini on 4 October, and 
thereafter he talked with German Army and Navy commanders about mili- 
tary plans for Gibraltar and Africa. On 22 October, he discussed prospects 
for French collaboration with the Vichy vice premier, Pierre Laval. On the 
following day. Hitler met General Franco at the Spanish border. During 
their conversation Franco gave an oral pledge that Spain would join the Axis 
and enter the war at an undetermined future date— provided Germany 
promised approximately the same considerations that Spain had demanded in 
August.''' On 24 October, Hitler talked with Marshal Petain. The marshal 
agreed to issue an official announcement stating that France had an identical 
interest with Germany in seeing the defeat of England, and that the French 

" Haider Journal, IV, 219. 

" Haider Journal, IV, 232-33, entry of 15 Oct 41, contains a good summary of the conflicting 
claims of France, Spain, and Italy. Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, Chapter III, provides a 
detailed account of Hitler's October negotiations and their aftermath. 

Haider Journal, IV, 244-45, entry of 24 Oct 40. Haider subsequently recorded (V, 6, entry 
of 4 Nov 40) that General Franco confirmed this oral pledge in a letter to Hitler, and that on 11 
November the Spanish Foreign Minister signed a protocol substantiating Franco's oral pledge. 



Government would "support, within the limits of its ability, the measures 
which the Axis Powers may take to this end." " Actually, Hitler's confer- 
ences had failed to produce an explicit agreement on the terms of collabo- 
ration or on the subsequent division of the spoils, and Spain had not really 
committed itself to enter the war in the near future. Nevertheless, on 4 
November the Fuehrer instructed his commanders to go ahead with detailed 
planning for the Gibraltar operation.'* 

Operation FELIX, as the Gibraltar project was christened, contemplated 
a German entry from occupied France into Spain about 10 January 1941. 
Simultaneously, German planes from France would attack British shipping 
at Gibraltar in order to drive British naval support away from the fortress; 
they would then land at newly prepared Spanish airfields to provide air sup- 
port for the attack. An artillery barrage— primarily by German guns secretly 
emplaced in advance— would begin at the same time. About three weeks 
later (on or after 1 February), German ground forces would arrive before 
the Rock to spearhead the attack. The Gibraltar assault force would be fol- 
lowed through Spain by two German divisions— one armored and one mo- 
torized—that would cross the strait into Morocco to seize control of its 
Atlantic littoral. Three more German divisions were to cross Spain to the 
Portuguese frontier, where they would be in position to counterattack a 
British landing in Portugal. Spain, with the aid of German guns, would 
reinforce the Canaries to guard them against an anticipated British attack. 
After Gibraltar's capture, the Germans planned to garrison it themselves and 
also to maintain German artillery on both sides of the strait to insure that 
the western exit of the Mediterranean remained closed to the British. Only 
after Britain's defeat would Gibraltar be turned over to the Spaniards. Plans 
and the necessary reconnaissance for subsequent operations in northwestern 
Africa and against the Atlantic islands had not been completed when FELIX 
was presented to Hitler for his approval on 5 December. By then, the Ger- 
man Army, Navy, and Air Force had reported to Hitler that their plans for 
FELIX were complete, and the German High Command on 2 December 
informed its staff that General Franco had agreed that operations should be 
launched at the beginning of February." 

Hull, Memoirs. I, 849. 

Helmuth Greiner, Draft Entries in the War Diary of the National Def Br, Wehrmacht 
Operations Office, August-November 1940, entry of 4 Nov 40, OCMH MS C-065j; Fuehrer Con- 
ferences, 1940, II, 33-34. 

" Helmuth Greiner, Draft Entries in the War Diary of the National Def Br, Wehrmacht 
Operations Office, Dec 40-Mar 41, entries of 1-4 Dec and 5 Dec 40, OCMH MS C-065k; Haider 
Journal, V, 55, entry of 5 Dec 40. The FELIX plan is described in Greiner, Operation FELIX, 
and in more detail in British Cabinet Office, Hist Br, "Operation FELIX: German Plans for Spain 
and the Capture of Gibraltar (June 1950)," Pt. II, Military Preparations, pp. 34-}8, in Axis Plans 
and Operations in the Mediterranean, September 1939-February 1941. 



At this point, the Germans demanded that Franco give his express 
approval to the commencement of operations on or about 10 January 1941. 
The Spanish dictator on 7 December refused to do so, or to agree to Spanish 
entry into the war at any early date in the future."* Since the Germans had 
throughout considered Spanish collaboration an essential to the execution 
of their project, Hitler felt he had no alternative but to postpone FELIX 
and turn German military power in other directions. He made half-hearted 
attempts in January to reopen the question with Spain, but when his mili- 
tary advisers informed him that it would take two months to remount the 
Gibraltar project and that the units involved would therefore be unable to 
complete their task in time to participate in the attack on the Soviet Union 
then scheduled for May 1941, the Nazi Fuehrer reluctantly abandoned Oper- 
ation FELIX. He had to content himself with expressing the conviction 
"that the situation in Europe can no longer develop unfavorably for Ger- 
many even if we should lose the whole of North Africa." 

The execution of the Gibraltar-Africa project of 1940 would have posed 
a very serious threat to the security of the United States and the rest of the 
Western Hemisphere. While the British had expressed optimism about their 
chances of defending Gibraltar successfully the Germans had been at least 
equally confident that they could capture it with relative ease and that there- 
after they could keep the western Mediterranean closed and could control 
northwestern Africa. If the Gibraltar plan had succeeded, Britain's position 
would have been seriously weakened, morally as well as materially. The entry 
of German military forces into Morocco would have given Germany a hold 
over Vichy France that it had hitherto lacked and would have eliminated the 
constant threat that French North African leaders might throw in their lot 
with Great Britain should the Germans push the Vichy Government too far. 
Spain's refusal to carry out its tentative promises of collaboration had the 
effect of definitely turning German military power eastward, first into the 
eastern Mediterranean and then against the Russians. This eastward shift b 
the surge of German military might was of incalculable advantage to the 
military preparations of the United States in 1941, and it left the door open 
for the Anglo-American North African offensive in 1942. 

German control of French North and West Africa would have had a 
profound influence on the Latin American nations and would have made it 

Haider Journal, V, 60-62, entries of 8 and 9 Dec 40; Greiner, Draft Entries in the War 
Diary of the National Def Br, Wehrmacht Operations Office, Dec 40-Mar 41, entry of 10 Dec 40. 

" Report of Conf between Adm Raeder and Hitler, 8-9 Jan 41, Fuehrer Conferences, 1941. I, 

*" Report of Adm Ghormley, relating his conversation with Sir Dudley Pound and Sir John 
Dill, }1 Aug 40, Kittredge MS, Ch. 10, App. C, p. 178. 



necessary for the United States greatly to accelerate its plans and measures 
for defense in the Latin American area. No evidence had been uncovered 
that Hitler or his military advisers developed their Gibraltar-Africa projea 
to the point of planning any transoceanic attack on the Brazilian bulge, 
though to American military observers that seemed the logical sequel to a 
German thrust toward the South Atlantic. When a similar German drive 
through Spain seemed imminent in the spring of 1941, President Roosevelt 
and his military and civilian advisers considered that it would be a very 
grave threat to American security. The records of the preceding autumn do 
not reflect a similar concern, presumably because the President and his ad- 
visers never obtained a real inkling of the concrete nature and precise scope 
of the German plans and preparation of 1940.'" 

Thus the two specific German moves planned after the land victory in 
June 1940 that appeared to threaten the United States and the rest of the 
Western Hemisphere immediately— the invasion of Great Britain and the 
Gibraltar- Africa project— failed to materialize. A third and continuing 
threat — German air and submarine action against Britain and British ship- 
ping lanes— was to have a good deal more to do with the gradual involve- 
ment of the United States in the Atlantic war from the fall of 1940 onward. 
The major menace— German military might at loose ends under irresponsible 
and amoral leadership— was first stalled and then slowly diverted toward 
secret preparations for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Japanese rather 
than the German decisions of 1940 were to bring the United States into the 
war full-scale at the end of 1941, though Japan acted then in response to the 
opportunity created by Hitler's European aggressions. 

For German moves in 1941, see |ch. vj below. 


The American Response: Military 
Policies and Plans, 1940-41 

The policy of hemisphere defense merged from September 1940 onward 
with the broader policy of supporting the active opponents of Axis aggres- 
sion. The two policies were complementary. Germany could not launch any 
major attack against the New World so long as Great Britain maintained 
naval superiority in the eastern Atlantic. To maintain that superiority, the 
British Navy had to be based on the British Isles. With the position of 
Britain much better assured than it had appeared to be during the dark days 
of June, the United States Government now considered it vital to bolster 
that position by supplying arms and other equipment to the maximum extent 
compatible with essential requirements of its own expanding Army and 
Navy. American officials also judged that a policy of strong and overt sup- 
port of Britain would be the one best calculated to stay Japanese armed 
aggression in the Far East. By December the United States had decided to 
extend more open aid to China as well. In a pre-election speech on 26 
October 1940, Secretary of State Hull summarized the new military policy 
in two simple terms: "One, to rearm to the utmost; two, to help the Allies 
with supplies." ' As the Secretary subsequently acknowledged, by the end of 
1S>40 the United States was "acting no longer under the precepts of neutralit}', 
but under those of self-defense." ^ 

Secretary Hull had sound reasons for justifying the supply of arms to 
nations fighting Axis aggression on the ground of self-defense. The military 
and naval forces of the United States were far from ready in the fall of 1940 
to carry out a policy of hemisphere defense. The Army, in fact, was not 
prepared to do much more than conduct a static defense of United States 
territory in the Western Hemisphere. Despite the Army's growing numbers, 
it had no large ground or air units ready for offensive employment in terms 
of either training or equipment. It would be many months before the Army 
could be ready to carry out the measures in defense of the hemisphere that a 
Rainbow 4 situation — the collapse of Great Britain— would require. 

' Hull, Memoirs, I, 866. 
' Ibid., II, 919. 



Although the Navy was far better prepared than the Army for immediate 
action, national policy continued to dictate that the bulk of American naval 
strength remain in the eastern Pacific as a deterrent to fiirther Japanese ag- 
gression. Construction of ships for a two-ocean Navy that could provide 
protection for both the Atlantic and Pacific fronts of the New World was 
just beginning. Until the United States could rely on its own forces to pro- 
tect the Western Hemisphere from Axis aggression, the nation's leaders 
believed that its security depended on keeping the Axis Powers in check by 
supporting the armed forces of the British Empire and of China. 

Emergency Expeditionary Force Plans 

Under these circumstances there was little that the United States could 
hope to do to counter a movement of German forces through Spain toward 
the South Atlantic. Marshal Petain's announcement on 24 October that 
Vichy France would support the Axis war effort against Great Britain had 
seemed in Washington to presage easy German access to French North and 
West Africa. Hitler's meeting with Franco had suggested the likelihood of 
Spanish collaboration with Germany as well. If assured of French and Spanish 
collaboration, the Germans could easily overawe or overrun Portugal and 
occupy strategic positions in the Portuguese as well as the Spanish islands. 
Once emplaced in French West Africa and on the Atlantic islands, the Ger- 
mans — whether they had originally planned to do so or not— could launch 
an attack across the South Atlantic against the bulge of Brazil. This was the 
very danger that had so impressed American military planners in 1939, but 
which United States forces in the fall of 1940 were still virtually impotent 
to meet. 

The United States was particularly concerned about the fate of the Portu- 
guese Azores Islands. As early as March 1940 President Roosevelt had dis- 
cussed the danger of German action against the Azores with the American 
minister to Portugal, then home on leave. A report to the President during 
June elicited the following opinion from Secretary of State Hull: 

The attached letter . . . seems to involve naval and possibly military action on our 
part in preventing the occupation of the Azores by German, Italian, or possibly Spanish 
forces. For practical reasons I do not see that there is anything that this country can do, 
as much as we might like to.* 

During July the Department of State instructed its representatives in Lisbon 
and Madrid to inform the Portuguese and Spanish Governments of the "deep 
concern" of the United States for the status of their island possessions in the 

' Memo, Secy State for President, 18 Jun 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



Atlantic* In August the German Foreign Office took note of negotiations 
between the United States and Portugal concerning the Azores and guessed 
that they were being considered for a joint Anglo-American naval base.' 
British proposals for combined Anglo-American operations in the Atlantic 
(in case the United States entered the war), drafted in June 1940 and dis- 
cussed with the American naval representative in London during September, 
contemplated the occupation of the Portuguese islands by United States 
forces.^ As already noted, the joint estimate of 25 September held that an 
American entry into the Azores might be necessary if German forces moved 
into Spain and Portugal, and in October Army and Navy staff officers drafted 
a plan for a quick occupation of the Azores by an American force built 
around a reinforced division supported by a sizable naval squadron contain- 
ing at least one aircraft carrier.'' Aside from considerations of policy, the 
obstacles to carrying out this plan were the lack of a division ready to under- 
take the task and the lack of available naval forces to support the operation. 

A more feasible and realistic emergency expeditionary force plan evolved 
out of concern over the status of French possessions in the New World. 
Immediately after Petain's announcement of 24 October, the United States 
sent a sharp warning to Vichy stating that any French connivance with 
Germany "would most definitely wreck the traditional friendship between 
the French and American peoples" and implying that such French action 
would justify American occupation of French possessions in the Westem 
Hemisphere." This strong message offended the French, but it also helped 
to dampen their enthusiasm for collaboration with Hitler. The British had 
wanted the United States to take an even stronger stand: they wanted back- 
ing for Free French uprisings in French possessions in Africa as well as in 
the New World. The United States and Great Britain were both gravelv 
concerned over the possibility that the Vichy French might permit units of 
their Navy at Dakar and at Martinique to join the Axis in operations against 
the British Navy. The United States went so far in November as to offer to 
buy two unfinished French battleships, one located at Dakar and the other 
at Casablanca, in order to keep them out of German hands. The Vichy Gov- 
ernment rejected the offer, though it repeated its earlier pledge not to allow 
French naval forces to be used offensively against the British. As for France's 
New World possessions, the United States really preferred to let them alone 

■* Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 738. 
' Haider Journal, IV, 170, entry of 23 Aug 40. 
* Kinredge MS, Ch. 11, pp. 248-55. 
' A copy of this plan is in WPD 4422. 

' Telg, Dept of State to U.S. Charge, 25 Oct 40, quoted In Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, p. 97. 



provided the agreement for maintaining the status quo, informally negotiated 
in August with Admiral Roberts, the French governor, could be maintained.'' 

Pending the receipt of satisfactory assurances from Vichy, the United 
States prepared to occupy Martinique and Guadeloupe. President Roosevelt 
in late October directed the Navy to draft a plan for an emergency operation, 
to be executed on three days' notice. The Navy drew up a plan calling for 
an assault on Martinique by a strong naval force (including two battleships 
and two carriers) but with only twenty-eight hundred marines as the landing 
force. The Navy asked the Army to be prepared to support the landing 
with two reinforced regiments totaling sixty-eight hundred men and to 
schedule them to sail from New York five days after the operation began. 
This plan assumed that the assault would meet with no more than token op- 
position. At this time there were between seven and eight thousand French 
soldiers and sailors on Martinique, and its principal port. Fort de France, had 
strong harbor defenses well supplied with ammunition. The Army planners 
therefore objected to the assumption of token resistance and urged that an 
expeditionary force of twenty-five thousand, properly trained and equipped, 
be readied before the United States undertook any operation such as that con- 
templated against Martinique. The War Plans Division assumed that the 
French, heartened by their success at Dakar the preceding month, would re- 
sist; it held that a defeat in the first American military operation of the war 
would have most serious repercussions in Latin America and might "destroy 
all progress in consolidating the Western Hemisphere made to date." The 
Army planners therefore recommended that the United States should first in- 
voke the procedure for emergency occupation of European possessions 
prescribed at the Havana Conference and in the meantime maintain a tight 
blockade of Martinique and give the Army's 1st Infantry Division intensive 
training in landing operations in Puerto Rico.'" 

Both General Marshall and Secretary of War Stimson shared the doubts 
of the Army planners that an immediate operation against Martinique was 
feasible, and they also doubted it.s wisdom even if it were feasible. They 
feared that the Navy plan might result in a repulse comparable to the 
British-Free French fiasco at Dakar. Further, Mr. Stimson pointed out, pre- 
cipitate American action might have a very harmfiil effect on the critical 
situation then pending in North Africa; it might, indeed, drive French Africa 
right into the arms of Germany." The Army nevertheless alerted the 1st 

•> Memo, CofS for SW, 22 Occ 40, SLC Min. Vol. I, Item 62; Hull, M emoirs. I, 849-50; Langer, 
Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 100-101. For the August agreement, see |Ch. above. 
"> Memo, WPD for CofS, 29 Oct 40, WPD 4337. 

" Memo, SGS for CofS, 31 Oct 40, OCS Conf Binder 6; Stimson Diary, entries of 31 Oct and 
1 Nov 40. 



Division and requested its commander to formulate a plan for expediting its 
training and availability for emergency action. On 2 November General Mar- 
shall asked the Joint Board to revise the earlier joint plan for a Martinique 
operation in order to provide an overwhelming force that would insure quick 
success, should an occupation become necessary.'^ 

The Joint Planning Committee undertook the revision of the Martinique 
plan during November, and the 1st Division drafted a subordinate plan for 
establishing three task forces (A, B, and C), each built around one of its in- 
fantry regiments. Task Forces A and B numbered about five thousand men 
each, Task Force C about seven thousand. Only Task Force A had reached a 
state of training that permitted its assignment as part of the assault force in 
the projected Martinique operation; Task Force B might be used in a land- 
ing against lightly held Guadeloupe, and Task Force C constituted little 
more than an untrained reserve. This was all that the Army's best trained 
infantry division could contribute to an emergency expeditionary force at the 
end of 1940.'* 

Fortunately, from the point of view both of policy and of military readi- 
ness, no operation against Martinique had to be undertaken. The Navy had 
sent Admiral Greenslade, who had previously arranged the existing informal 
understanding with the French Governor, Admiral Robert, back to Marti- 
nique with instructions to negotiate a new agreement that would guarantee 
the maintenance of the status quo. Faced with the alternative of an American 
bombardment and occupation. Admiral Robert on 3 November accepted a 
"gentleman's agreement": the governor promised not to move any of the 
French naval vessels at Martinique except on two days' notice to the consul 
and the naval observer of the United States at Fort de France and then only 
for purposes of maintenance or (in the case of one small ship) administrative 
contact with the other French West Indian colonies; he promised also the 
continued immobilization of the airplanes and gold stranded on Martinique 
in June; finally, he promised to notify American representatives if the Vichy 
authorities proposed his replacement. In return, Admiral Greenslade agreed 
to continue the supply of essential foodstuffs and fuel to the French West 
Indies.'"* With slight modifications, this agreement remained in effect until 
the summer of 1943, though on several occasions after November 1940 the 

'2 WPD Memo for Record, 29 Oct 40, WPD 4337; Memo, CofS for JB, 2 Nov 40 WPD 

"Various papers in AG 381 (11-12-40) and WPD 4337-1, especially IncI to Ltr, CG 1st 
Div to WPD, 3 Dec 40, WPD 4337-1. 

"•Memo of Adm Robert, Fort de France, 17 Dec 41, sub: Confirmation to [Rear Adm 
Frederick J.] Home of Robert- Greenslade Agreements, WPD 4337-9; Morison, Battle of the 
Atlantic, p. }2. 



United States was to question the reliability of Admiral Robert and to pre- 
pare again for the forceful occupation of Martinique. 

President Roosevelt in mid-November offered the French ambassadorship 
to Admiral William D. Leahy, then governor of Puerto Rico, and when Ad- 
miral Leahy reached Vichy in January 1941 he found the situation very dif- 
ferent from the one that had so greatly alarmed the United States during 
October. On 13 December 1940 Marshal Petain dismissed Laval from his 
posts of Vice Premier and Foreign Minister. Further, Petain refused to attend 
the collaboration ceremony the Fuehrer had planned to stage in Paris on 15 
December; instead, he sent a message to President Roosevelt reiterating his 
solemn promise that the French Fleet would be scuttled before it would be 
allowed to fall into German hands, and otherwise indicating his decision to 
avoid any active collaboration with the Nazis." With these assurances in 
hand, the President instructed Admiral Leahy to tell the Vichy authorities 
that American policy toward the French West Indies and French Guiana 
would continue to be the maintenance of status quo, so long as the United 
States was assured that "neither those possessions nor their resources will 
ever be used to the detriment of the United States or the American 

The hurried planning for an assault on Martinique had a beneficial effea 
on Army preparations for emergency operations, despite the indefinite post- 
ponement of the Martinique operation itself In June the Army had arranged 
for the 1st and 3d Infantry Divisions on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, re- 
spectively, to receive special equipment for training in landing operations in 
order to prepare them for use as emergency expeditionary forces. The Army 
also hoped to train the two divisions in joint amphibious exercises with the 
Navy.'"' Little had been done to carry out these arrangements before the Army 
started to plan the projected operation against Martinique. In October the 
War Plans Division had recommended to the Chief of Staff a broader plan, 
involving the establishment of an expeditionary corps on the Atlantic coast 
to consist of one Regular Army and two National Guard divisions with six 
supporting coast artillery regiments and necessary service units. Units of the 
corps were to be exempted from furnishing cadres for training other forces 
and were to be given equipment priorities. The requirements of the rapidly 
expanding Army made adoption of such an ambitious plan impracticable, and 

" Rad, President to Adm Leahy, 16 Nov 40, FDR Personal Letters, II, 1080-81; Tel msg. 
White House to Warm Springs, Ga., 1 5 Dec 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

" Ltr, President to Adm Leahy, 20 Dec 40, William D. Leahy, / Was There (New York: 
Whittlesey House, 1950), p. 445. 

" Memo, WPD for G-3, 11 Jun 40, WPD 4232-3; Ltr, TAG to CG First Army, 26 Jun 40. 
WPD 4161-3. 



General Marshall approved the exemption and equipment priority only for 
the Regular Army division and for one antiaircraft regiment. The 1st Divi- 
sion and the 68th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Regiment were then ear- 
marked for use in emergency expeditionary forces with these exemptions and 
priorities. The other units were to form the expeditionary force reserve."* 

During the winter and spring of 1940-41, both the 1st Division on the 
Atlantic coast and the 3d Division on the Pacific managed to obtain landing 
equipment that permitted limited amphibious training, though plans for 
joint training with Navy and Marine forces remained in abeyance. The gen- 
eral emergency expeditionary force plan that was developed during this 
period, based on Rainbow 4, called for the reinforced 1st Division to be 
ready to engage in any landing operations that might be required in defense 
of the Caribbean area or Brazil; preparation of the reinforced 30th Infantry 
Division to relieve the 1st Division after it had been engaged, in order to 
free the 1st Division for a new operation; designation and preparation of the 
reinforced 44th Infantry Divisidn as a defense force for Newfoundland; and 
continued amphibious training of the 3d Division on the Pacific coast as a 
nucleus for an expeditionary force to be dispatched if necessary to north- 
western South America. While the Martinique project had acted as a spur to 
the development of this general plan, actual training of the many units in- 
volved continued to lag; in fact, until the summer of 1941, the 1st Division 
and its supporting units (a force numbering about 25,000) remained the only 
Army ground organization even relatively well prepared for action against 
armed opposition along the Atlantic front. 

New Definitions of National Policy 

The nation's lack of readiness to take military steps to deal with Axis 
threats in the Atlantic, even those close to American shores, was paralleled 
by objections to using American naval power as an effective check to Japan's 
aggression in the Pacific. Prime Minister Churchill on 4 October 1S>40 sug- 
gested to President Roosevelt that he send a substantial detachment of the 
United States Fleet to Britain's Singapore base. His proposal met with 

'» Memo, WPD for CofS, 4 Oct 40; Memo, WPD for G-3, 14 Oct 40. Both in WPD 4161-2. 
Notes on Conf in OCS, 10 Oct 40, OCS Conf Binder 6; Greenfield and Palmer, "Origins of the 
Mmy Ground Forces: General Headquarters, United States Army, 1940-42," in The Organization 
of Ground Combat Troops, pp. 85-86; Leighcon and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940- 
43, pp. 60-62. 

" In February 1941 the reinforced 1st, 30th, and 44th Divisions were designated Task Forces 
A, B, and C. and. subsequently, as Task Forces 1, 2, and 3. The above summary is based on vari- 
ous papers, dated November 1940- April 1941, in WPD 4161-3, WPD 4161-4, WPD 4161-6, 
and AG 381 (11-12-40). 



strong opposition from the admirals and from General Marshall, though 
Secretary of War Stimson urged the President to shift the bulk of the fleet 
to Singapore forthwith.-" Admiral Stark and his staff questioned whether the 
United States could continue indefinitely to rely on British naval power to 
maintain control in the eastern Atlantic. In any event, the Navy felt that if 
the United States had to undertake new military operations in the Atlantic 
area, it would have to move a substantial part of the fleet into the Atlantic 
to assure continued naval control there.-' General Marshall, believing as he 
did that "if we lose in the Atlantic we lose everywhere," wished to keep 
American naval strength in the Pacific available for a quick shift to the At- 
lantic in case the situation worsened.^- President Roosevelt apparently favored 
some sort of naval demonstration in the Pacific that would clearly indicate to 
the Japanese that the United States Government had no intention of being 
bullied by them." 

The President and his advisers, though ignorant of the details of Axis 
war planning, had a fairly accurate appreciation in October 1940 of the dan- 
gers to the national security that loomed in the none-too-distant fiiture. 
Nevertheless, they also realized that the nation's military and naval forces 
would not be ready to deal effectively with these dangers for many months 
to come. They knew, too, that a large majority of the American people were 
opposed to direct participation in the war, except in actual defense of West- 
ern Hemisphere territory. October 1940 also saw the climax of a Presidential 
election campaign in which both Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Willkie felt com- 
pelled to say that they had no intention of getting the United States into the 
war or of ever permitting American boys to be sent overseas to fight. Secre- 
tary of State Hull on the other hand, had the courage to speak publicly be- 
fore the election of the dangers facing the United States, and of their logical 

There can be nothing more dangerous for our nation than for us to assume that the 
avalanche of conquest could under no circumstances reach any vital portion of this hem- 
isphere. Oceans give the nations of this hemisphere no guarantee against the possibility 
of economic, political, or military attack from abroad. Oceans are barriers but they arc 
also highways. Barriers of distance are merely barriers of time. Should the would-be con- 
querors gain control of other continents, they would next concentrate on perfecting their 
control of the seas, of the air over the seas, and 6t the world's economy; they might then 

Notes on SLC mtg, 5 Oct 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 58; Ltr, SW to President, 12 Oct 40, 
Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

" Kittredge MS, Ch. 12, pp. 295-96, paraphrasing a personal letter of Admiral Stark to 
Admiral Ghormley, dated 16 October 1940. 

Notes on SLC mtg, 5 Oct 40, SLC Min, Vol. \, Item 58; Memo of Conv between Gen 
Marshall and CofS Chilean Army, 1 Nov 40, WPD 4228-7. 
" Stimson Diary, entry of 8 Oct 40. 



be able with ships and with planes to strilce at the communication lines, the commerce, 
and the life of this hemisphere; and ultimately we might find ourselves compelled to 
fight on our own soil, under our own skies, in defense of our independence and our very 

The situation called for a new definition of national policy and for military 
planning in accordance with that definition. Army and Navy planners needed 
something more specific to act on than Mr. Hull's definition of American 
policy toward Japan, which was described in late November as a "policy of 
slowing Japan up, so to speak, as much as we could by fighting a rear guard 
diplomatic action, without doing it so stringently as to drive her to get her 
supplies by making an attack on the Netherlands." " 

An Air Corps staff analysis in November 1940 stated that there appeared 
to be three national military policies in prospect, any one of which might 
be put into effect in the near future: Western Hemisphere defense; an offen- 
sive in the Far East; and an offensive in Europe, in association with Great 
Britain. It went on to state that "the uncertainty as to which National Mili- 
tary Policy will be put into effect and the wide disparity between the possible 
lines of action that may be undertaken make the acceptance of any one of these 
Policies by the military authorities, without the definite advice of the Na- 
tional Government, a matter of questionable procedure." But since the lack 
of any basic policy would lead to chaos, this analysis recommended that the 
Air Corps accept Western Hemisphere defense as the most probable and 
at any rate the most essential policy to guide its preparations. General Marshall 
approved the recommendation on 29 November 1940.^^ 

The impetus for a new definition of national policy came from the Chief 
of Naval Operations, Admiral Stark. After discussing the war outlook with 
Secretary Knox in late October, Admiral Stark and his staff drafted a detailed 
analysis of the situation facing the United States. He stated his understand- 
ing of current major national objectives as the "preservation of the territo- 
rial, economic, and ideological integrity of the United States, plus that of the 
remainder of the Western Hemisphere; the prevention of the disruption of 
the British Empire, with all that such a consummation implies; and the dimi- 
nution of the offensive military power of Japan, with a view to the reten- 
tion of our economic and political interests in the Far East." In conclusion, 
Admiral Stark presented for consideration and decision by the President and 

" Speech of 26 Oct 40, Hull, Memoirs, I, 865-66. 
Stimson Diary, entry of 29 Nov 40. 

Memo, Capt Haywood S. Hansell, Jr., for Gen Arnold, 25 Nov 40; Memo, Air Corps for 
WPD, 29 Nov 40, and atchd statement of " Basic Principles of Employment of the Air Component 
of the Army in the Order of Their Priority," as approved by Gen Marshall. Both in WPD 888-1 13. 



the War and Navy Departments four alternate courses of action. Plan A 
proposed that the United States concentrate its military effort on Western 
Hemisphere defense; the United States would continue to supply material 
aid to the allied forces opposing the Axis Powers, but even if drawn into 
open war its armed forces would send only small detachments overseas to 
assist the allies in the fighting. Plan B called for a full offensive by United 
States forces against Japan in the western Pacific, coupled with a strictly de- 
fensive posture in the Atlantic. Plan C envisaged full-scale oflfensives by 
American military forces across both oceans. Admiral Stark dismissed Plans 
B and C as impracticable, even though the latter was the only course of ac- 
tion that (if successful) would insure attainment of the major national ob- 
jectives with which he had premised his analysis. Plan D contemplated a 
major offensive across the Atlantic while maintaining the defensive in the 
Pacific; initially, American participation would be principally naval, but even- 
tually it would probably have to include action by a large ground force in 
a major offensive to be launched from African or western European bases. 
Although Admiral Stark recognized that the American people were at this 
time opposed to sending a large expeditionary force across the Atlantic, he 
concluded nevertheless that Plan D was "likely to be the most fruitful for 
the United States, particularly if we enter the war at an early date." Despite 
this conclusion, the Chief of Naval Operations recommended that "until 
such time as the United States should decide to engage its full forces in war," 
it should "pursue a course that will most rapidly increase the military strength 
of both the Army and Navy, that is to say, adopt Alternative (A) without 
hostilities." Whatever the decision, Admiral Stark believed it essential that 
Army and Navy officers be authorized at once to engage in secret staff con- 
versations with British and Dutch military representatives to insure a uni- 
fied and co-ordinated military effort "should the United States find it 
necessary to enter the war."" 

The Army planners concurred in general with Admiral Stark's analysis 
and conclusions, though they objected to his definition of major national 
objectives as being too broad to be sustained by the nation's existing mili- 
tary and naval strength. Instead, they proposed a definition of national ob- 
jectives in the following terms: 

a. Preservation of the territorial, economic, and ideological integrity of the United 

Memo, Adm Stark, CNO, for SN Knox, 12 Nov 40, WPD 4175-15. The first version of 
the "Plan Dog Memorandum," as it was called, was dated 4 November 1940; copies of both ver- 
sions went to the President, as well as to the War Department. See Matloff and Snell, Strategic 
Planning, 1941-42, pp. 25-27, for ftirther details about Admiral Stark's paper and its aftermath. 



b. Aid to Great Britain short of war. 

c. No military commitments in the Far East. 

d. Preparations for an eventual unlimited war in rhe Atlantic in support of Great 

The Army planners pointed out that the Stark memorandum ignored the 
possibilities of air action against the Axis Powers, and they also observed that 
Great Britain did not then control any land area from which a large-scale 
ground offensive could be launched against the enemy. The Army planners 
indorsed Plan D, modified to include intensive air support, as the best course 
for the United States should it enter the war on its own initiative. But, like 
Admiral Stark, the planners recommended that the War Department sup- 
port Plan A— hemisphere defense— until such time as the United States de- 
cided to participate in military operations. They also recommended that the 
Joint Planning Committee draft a revised version of the Stark memorandum 
for presentation by the Joint Board to the President for decision.^' A few 
days later General Marshall asked the Joint Board to prepare a "National 
Estimate" along the lines of the Stark memorandum. The President, after 
reading Admiral Stark's paper, had said that he would like to have the State, 
War, and Navy Departments draft a joint estimate. This led to the Navy's 
subsequent insistence that official Department of State approval of the Joint 
Planning Committee's estimate, transmitted to the Joint Board on 21 De- 
cember, be secured before its submission to the President.'" In the meantime, 
Mr. Roosevelt had authorized secret staff conversations with the British, and 
Admiral Stark on 2 December invited the British to participate in staff con- 
versations in Washington." The prospective Anglo-American conference 
provided an additional reason for clarifying the national and military policies 
of the United States. 

The services had reason enough already to ask for a new definition of 
policy. The only current and approved joint war plan— Rainbow 4— con- 
stituted the basis for the Army's existing Operations Plan and Concentration 
Tables. But this joint plan had been adopted in June 1940 and had been 
predicated on the probability of Britain's defeat and on the necessity of the 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 13 Nov 40, WPD 4175-15. This memorandum omitted from a. 
the rest of Admiral Stark's phrase, "plus that of the remainder of the Western Hemisphere." 
Whether the omission was accidental or intentional is not known. The joint estimate of December 
(see below) restored Admiral Stark's phraseology. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Nov 40 (commenting on Navy's 4 Nov draft) ; Memo, WPD for 
CofS, 13 Nov 40 (commenting on 12 Nov draft). Both in WPD 4175-15. 

Memo, CofS for JB, 18 Nov 40; Memo, CNO for CofS, 22 Nov 40; JPC Report, 12 Dec 40, 
sub: Study of the Immediate Problems Concerning Involvement in War. All in WPD 4175-15. 
Ltr. JPC toJB, 21 Dec 40, JB 325, ser 670. 

»' Memo, CofS, for CNO, 2 Dec 40, WPD 4175-15; Kittredge MS, Ch. 13, p. 318. 



United States acting virtually alone in defending the Atlantic front of the 
Western Hemisphere. Since June Britain's prospects had greatly improved, 
though the British position was still far from being fully assured; on the 
other hand, Japan's intentions had become much more evident and ominous. 
The Army recognized that the existing Rainbow 4 war plans were out of 
date and was engaged in revising them. What the Army and Navy really 
needed was a new joint war plan, one that would accord with the conclu- 
sions and recommendations of the Stark memorandum, as amended in the 
Joint Planning Committee's estimate of December. In essence, the Army and 
Navy now anticipated the probability of a period of transition from a Rain- 
bow 4 to a Rainbow 5 situation. The Rainbow 5 concept called for es- 
tablishment of a firm defensive position in the Western Hemisphere and 
maintenance of the defensive in the Pacific, and thereafter projection of 
American military power offensively in the eastern Atlantic in association 
with the forces of Great Britain. Almost no work had been done on the joint 
Rainbow 5 plan, and yet it was the one most similar to the services' new 
estimate of the way the situation was most likely to develop.*^ 

At the beginning of December 1940 it appeared to the Secretaries of State, 
War, and Navy that, unless the United States took more decisive steps to 
support Great Britain, the British might be doomed to early defeat. To com- 
bat the steady pounding of German air and sea attacks, Britain needed more 
airplanes and more escort vessels. The state of aircraft production in the 
United States would not permit any great increase in plane deliveries for 
some time to come, and the Secretaries had been informed even if the United 
States had wished to turn over more destroyers to England, the British did 
not have the crews to man them. To the three Secretaries, the only solution 
appeared to be direct naval participation in convoying goods to England." 
In an Army-Navy conference on 16 December called by the Secretary of 
War, Mr. Stimson, Mr. Knox, General Marshall, and Admiral Stark found 
themselves unanimously agreed "that this emergency could hardly be passed 
over without this country being drawn into the war eventually," and also 
"that the eventual big act will have to be to save the life line of Great Brit- 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Nov 40; Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 Dec 40. Both in WPD 4175- 
15. Memo, Lt Col William P. Scobey for Gen Gerow, WPD, 22 Nov 40, reviews briefly the cur- 
tent status of the Rainbow war plani; and Memo, Col Joseph T. McNarney for Gen Gerow, 
WPD, 19 Dec 40, summarizes the currently projected deployment of Army forces under existing 
Rainbow 4 plans. These memorandums are in OPD Exec 4. Item 5, Rainbow Plans Folder. 

The Navy at this time wished the Army to subscribe to a Rainbow 3 plan that the Navy had 
drafted, but the Army refused to do so, preferring not to commit itself in any way to the concept 
of an offensive against Japan. See Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 121-22. 
" Stimson Diary, entry of 3 Dec 40, reporting his discussion with Knox and Hull. 



ain in the North Atlantic."'^ Their agreement was precipitated by Admiral 
Stark's prediction that in view of its current rate of shipping losses Great 
Britain could not hold out longer than six months. They jointly agreed that 
the President should be urged immediately to "consider some method for 
our Naval cooperation in the convoying of shipping to the British Isles." " 
President Roosevelt, during a West Indian cruise in early December, had 
reflected on the means by which the United States could increase its aid to 
Great Britain, and he returned to Washington on 16 December with a plan 
introduced in Congress on 10 January as House Resolution 1776, which be- 
came known after its passage two months later as the Lend-Lease Act.'^' That 
the President had also thought deeply on the broad strategical problems fac- 
ing the United States is evident from a letter he wrote to the High Com- 
missioner of the Philippines, Francis B. Sayre, on the last day of 1940. "For 
practical purposes," he stated, "there is going on a world conflict, in which 
there are aligned on one side Japan, Germany and Italy, and on the other 
side China, Great Britain and the United States." While the United States 
was not involved in the hostilities, it had a very great interest in the fortunes 
of the nations with which it was aligned. Great Britain was on the defensive 
everywhere, not only in the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean, "but 
wherever there is a British possession or a British ship— and that means all 
over the world." Current American help to the defense of the British Isles 
was not enough. "They are defended," continued the President, "not only 
by measures of defense carried out locally but also by distant and wide-spread 
economic, military, and naval activities which both diminish the vital strength 
of their enemies and at the same time prevent those enemies from concen- 
trating the full force of their armed power against the heart and nerve center 
of the Empire." Since in the nature of things the British strategy had to be 
global, the American "strategy of giving them assistance toward ensuring 
our own security must envisage both sending of supplies to England and 
helping to prevent a closing of channels of communication to and from va- 
rious parts of the world, so that other important sources of supply and other 
theaters of action will not be denied to the British." Within its means and 
by measures short of war, the President concluded, the United States ought 
to support the British everywhere, including the Far East where a southward 

Ibid., entry of 16 Dec 40. The meeting was called by Secretary Stimson in order to establish 
a common Army- Navy front on strategy to guide discussions with President Roosevelt. 

" Memo, unsigned. 16 Dec 40, recording discussion at Army-Navy conference of this date, 
WPD 4175-18. 

Stettinius, Lend-Lease, Chs VI and VII; Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, Ch. X; Langer and 
Gleason, Undeclared War, Ch VIII. 



advance by the Japanese would certainly diminish Great Britain's chances of 
winning the war.''' 

A week later, the President in his annual message to Congress asserted, 
"the future and the safety of our country are overwhelmingly involved in 
events far beyond our borders," and "at no previous time has American se- 
curity been as seriously threatened from without as it is today." The United 
States, he said, had adopted a policy of all-out national defense, of full sup- 
port to all nations resisting aggression "thereby keeping war away from our 
hemisphere," and of refusing to acquiesce in any peace dictated by aggressors 
or sponsored by appeasers. The third element in this definition of policy 
had a far-reaching implication: the British could avoid such a peace only by 
winning the war, and American observers were now convinced that Great 
Britain could not win the war unless it received far greater military support 
from the United States. 

The Army and Navy presented their joint estimate of the situation to 
the Department of State on 3 January 1941 for official Department of State 
approval, in accordance with the President's wish expressed to Admiral Stark 
in November. Secretary Hull called the joint paper excellent and indicated 
his general agreement with it, but he did not want to give a formal blessing 
to what he called "a technical military statement of the present situation." 
General Marshall and Admiral Stark had to content themselves by leaving 
a copy of the estimate with Secretary Hull and affirming to him the neces- 
sity of a very definite statement of national policy upon which they could 
"base detailed plans for cooperation between our own Army and Navy and 
between the British and ourselves, if we should enter the war." " 

President Roosevelt made the necessary decisions on national and mili- 
tary policy in two separate actions during January. On 16 January, at the 
conclusion of a lengthy conference with Secretaries Hull, Stimson, and Knox, 
General Marshall, and Admiral Stark, the President issued an oral directive. 
First, he stated that the Navy should stand on the defensive in the Pacific 
with the United States Fleet based on Hawaii and should not attempt to re- 
inforce its Asiatic Fleet. Second, the President ordered the Navy to continue 
its Atlantic patrol and to prepare to convoy shipping to Great Britain. Third, 
he said "that the Army should not be committed to any aggressive action 
until it was fully prepared to undertake it; that our military course must be 
very conservative until our strength had developed; that it was assumed we 

" Pers Ltr, President to Sayre, 31 Dec 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; published in FDR Per- 
sonal Letters, II 1093-95. 

'« FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, pp. 663-72; Hull, Memoirs, II, 920. 
" Memo, WPD for CofS, 3 Jan 41, WPD 4175-15. 



could provide forces sufficiently trained to assist to a moderate degree in back- 
ing up friendly Latin- American governments against Nazi inspired fifth col- 
umn movements." This part of the President's directive had the effect of 
increasing the Army's concentration on preparations for military operations 
in the Caribbean and toward the South Atlantic. Finally, the President stated 
that even in the event of sudden and simultaneous action by Germany and 
Japan against the United States, the nation should make every effort to con- 
tinue the supply of war material to Great Britain.''" 

As a second step, the President ten days later approved a statement of 
national and military policy submitted to him by the Joint Board. This state- 
ment, designed as a guide for the conversations that were to begin with British 
staff officers three days later, defined "the present national position of the 
United States" as follows: 

(a) A fundamental principle of United States policy is that the Western Hemisphere 
remain secure against the extension in it of non-American military and political control. 

(b) The United States has adopted the policy of affording material and diplomatic 
assistance to the British Commonwealth in that nation's war against Germany. 

(c) The United States by diplomatic means has opposed any extension of Japanese 
rule over additional territory. 

The statement also included an assertion, "the American people as a whole 
desire now to remain out of war, and to provide only material and economic 
aid to Great Britain." But "should the United States be compelled to resort 
to war" (the President's own phrasing), its broad military objective would 
be the defeat of Germany; if Japan should also enter the war, United States 
operations in the Pacific "would be conducted in such a manner as to facili- 
tate the exertion of its principal military effort in the Atlantic or navally in 
the Mediterranean." Under all circumstances, the United States would need 
to maintain adequate military dispositions to "prevent the extension in the 
Western Hemisphere of European or Asiatic political and military power.'"" 

The New Outlook Toward the War 

In charting the course of American policy toward the war, the President 
and his advisers had acted in accordance with the existing state of public 
opinion. A large segment of the American people still seemed clearly op- 
posed to military participation in the war, except in defense of Western 

"o Memo, Gen Marshall for Gen Gerow, 17 Jan 41, WPD 4175-18. See also Watson, Prewar 
Plans and Preparations, pp. Xl^-l"). 

Paper, 27 Jan 41, title: Statement by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chief of Staflf 
(text revised and approved by President Roosevelt on 26 January 1941), WPD 4402. 



Hemisphere territory."'- This was recognized by General Marshall and Ad- 
miral Stark in the policy statement approved by the President on 26 January. 
One of the strongest proponents of material aid to Great Britain, William 
Allen White, late chairman of the Committee To Defend America by Aid- 
ing the Allies, could write in early January that he was against American 
convoy of ships, against sending American ships loaded with contraband of 
war into belligerent waters, and "bitterly opposed to our entrance into the 
war as matters stand now until we are attacked." Even those administra- 
tion leaders who advocated the early establishment of a North Atlantic escort- 
of-convoy system acknowledged that it would first be necessary to rouse re- 
sponsible public opinion in favor of it."'* 

The national policy decisions of January 1941 did not change the posi- 
tion of Western Hemisphere defense as the basic military policy. Hemisphere 
defense remained basic, but from January onward the nation's political and 
military leaders built upon it a superstructure of further plans and measures 
that they regarded as necessary to insure the security of the United States. 
After January 194l the Army ceased to defend its manpower requirements, 
which were currently fixed at 1,400,000 men, on the ground of hemisphere 
defense alone. The last study that did so, written in January, noted that the 
current Army "defense objective" called for fifty-four groups of combat avia- 
tion, twenty-seven infantry divisions, four armored divisions, two cavalry 
divisions, and essential corps, army, and GHQ troops. "A fighting force of 
this size," it argued, "is barely sufficient to meet defense responsibilities and 
to provide limited task forces for the support of South or Central American 
Governments threatened by Fifth Column activities." Projecting augmenta- 
tions of the Army to 2,800,OQO-man and 4,000,000-man totals, it defended 
them as possibly necessary "to conduct operations throughout the wide ex- 
panse of two continents.""' Such validity as this study had lay in the fact 
that the United States Army did not know what Hitler's real intentions were. 
The Chief of Staff, for example, found a sharp divergence of opinion within 
the Military Intelligence Division. One of its most trusted observers believed 
that Hitler would continue the Drang nach Osten and engulf the Soviet Union, 
that he would eschew conquests for which naval power was an essential, and 

" Baldwin, United We Stand, p. 48. 

Ltr, White to Reverend Allen Kcedy, 3 Jan 41, Walter Johnson, ed., Selected Letters of Wil- 
liam Allen White, 1899-194) (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1947), p. 422. 
" Stimson Diary, entry of 3 Dec 40. 

WPD study, Jan. 41, title: The Possible Necessity for an Army of 1,400,000 Men and One 
of 4,000,000 Men, OPD Exec 4, Item 5, Army Folder. The figures used in this study are identical 
with those in the revised statement of "defense objectives" issued by The Adjutant General on 18 
February 1941. AG 381 (2-17-41). 



therefore that the United States need have relatively little fear of a direct 
German military advance toward the New World. Brig. Gen. Sherman Miles, 
the chief of G-2, disagreed with his subordinate. He thought "that Hitler's 
idea for a new order is a world order dominated by the Germans, linked with 
Japanese supremacy in the Far East." Hitler could not achieve that position 
without gaining control of the Western Hemisphere — "it must be a world 
conquest or nothing." General Miles added that his analysis did not imply 
the likelihood of a German attack on the Western Hemisphere during 1S)41 
or even 1942."'^ 

The United States Army had good reason in any event to continue to 
concentrate its attention on hemisphere defense plans and measures for many 
months to come. The initial Army defense force for the first of the new Brit- 
ish bases to be occupied, Newfoundland, did not depart until January 1S>41, 
and none of the other British bases received Army combat troops before 
April. Work on the projected military air routes in Latin America had hardly 
begun. Alaska remained almost defenseless. Even under the best of circum- 
stances it was anticipated in January 1941 that the l,400,000-man Army 
could not be properly trained and equipped until March 1942. To Secretary 
of War Stimson, the immediate outlook seemed somber indeed. The chance 
of losing Great Britain and the British Fleet still loomed very large. If the 
British Fleet were eliminated, Secretary Stimson believed that the Germans 
could project their air and naval power across the Atlantic to South America 
or even to Newfoundland; once established in these positions, they could 
launch air attacks against the Caribbean and the northeastern United States. 
Should Germany and Japan attack simultaneously, the United States would 
not be able to withdraw its naval strength from the Pacific to fend off the 
German attack in the Atlantic. And the Panama Canal, essential to fluidity 
of naval movement between the oceans, was itself vulnerable to sabotage 
and to surprise air attack.'*' In the face of these circumstances and possibili- 
ties, while it behooved the United States to do all it could to aid Great Brit- 
ain, it was also mandatory to push defense preparations in the Western 
Hemisphere as rapidly as possible. 

In the Anglo-American military staff meetings, known as the American- 
British Conversations (ABC) and held in Washington between the end of 
January and the end of March 1941, the American representatives held fast 
to the political and military policies approved by the President during Janu- 

" Notes on Conf in OCS, 27 Jan 4 1, OCS Conf Binder 8. 

Memo, SW for President, 22 Jan 41, and Incl, title: Resume of Situation Relative to Bill 
1776, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 20, pp. 4275-80. 



ary. The report of these conversations, usually referred to by the short title 
ABC-1, concluded that in case the United States should be compelled to 
resort to war, it must in all eventualities maintain military dispositions that 
would prevent any Old World nation from extending its political or mili- 
tary power in the Western Hemisphere, the area of the world in which the 
United States had "paramount territorial interests." With hemisphere defense 
assured, the broad strategic objective of the United States, as of its associ- 
ates, would be the defeat of Germany and its allies. The Atlantic and Euro- 
pean area would be the decisive war theater, even if Japan embarked on 
armed aggression against British, American, and Dutch positions in the Far 

The ABC-1 report contained as an annex a "United States-British Com- 
monwealth Joint Basic War Plan," which prescribed Atlantic and Pacific 
areas within which American military forces would have primary responsi- 
bility if the United States joined in the war. In the Pacific, the American area 
of responsibility would extend westward to include the Japanese home is- 
lands, but it would exclude the Philippines and other Far Eastern territories 
in the path of Japan's projected southward advance. Within this area, the 
Army's role would be almost wholly defensive, on a line extending from 
Alaska (including Unalaska but excluding the outer Aleutians) through 
Hawaii to Panama, and from thence down the west coast of South America. 
In the Atlantic, the American area would consist of the two western conti- 
nents md adjacent islands (including Greenland), and most of the Atlantic 
Ocean west of longitude 30°. Within this Atlantic area, which corresponded 
roughly to the eastern limits of the Western Hemisphere as currently under- 
stood, the plan allotted Army ground forces the tasks of repelling enemy 
external attacks; supporting Latin American republics "against invasion or 
political domination by the Axis Powers by defeating or expelling enemy 
forces or forces supporting the enemy in the Western Hemisphere"; reliev- 
ing British forces in the Dutch West Indian islands of Curacao and Aruba; 
garrisoning the new British bases; and building up forces for an eventual of- 
fensive against Germany. Army air forces would have the additional mission 
of aiding in destruction of Axis sea communications. Within the British area 
of responsibihty in the eastern Atlantic, United States Army land and air 
forces would relieve the British in Iceland; Army air forces would be estab- 
lished in Great Britain for offensive operations against Germany; one rein- 

■"•The ABC-1 report, with annexes, is printed in full in Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 15, pp. 1485- 
550. See Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp, 367-82, and Matloff and Snell, Strategic 
Planning, 1941-42, pp. 32-41, for accounts of the ABC meetings. 



forced infantry division would relieve British troops in Northern Ireland, 
and one reinforced infantry regiment would be sent as a token force to the 
United Kingdom; and American air and naval bases in the British Isles and 
elsewhere would be protected by Army ground and air detachments. The 
United States Navy, in addition, accepted responsibility for occupying the 
Azores and Cape Verde Islands, if those operations became necessary. The 
plan specified that the Army commitments in the British Isles and Iceland 
could not be undertaken before 1 September 1941.'''^ 

The ABC-1 report and Joint War Plan gave the United States Army a 
general mission and specific tasks that included all of its existing plans and 
projects for hemisphere defense, and added thereto large-scale preparation 
for offensive operations against Germany together with several additional 
tasks not contemplated in existing Army war plans— the defense of Curasao, 
Aruba, and Greenland in the Western Hemisphere and of Iceland and bases 
in the British Isles in the Eastern Hemisphere. ABC-1 was the implementa- 
tion of Admiral Stark's Plan A of November 1940, with provision for transi- 
tion to Plan D as rapidly as circumstances required and permitted— the 
course of policy decided upon by the United States Government in the win- 
ter of 1940-41. 

On the basis of ABC-1, Army and Navy planners proceeded to draft a 
joint Rainbow 5 war plan, which they submitted to the Joint Board for ap- 
proval on 30 April 1941. The initial draft of the Army Rainbow 5 Opera- 
tions Plan, produced during May, projected Western Hemisphere Army 
deployment and garrison strength in numbers virtually identical with those 
provided in the existing Rainbow 4 Operations Plan.'" ABC-1 and joint 
Rainbow 5 in effect provided a long-range blueprint for the deployment 
and action of the armed forces of the United States— after their existing state 
of training and equipment had been substantially improved— in the event 
that the United States entered the war or continued along the road toward 
direct participation in the war. 

^' Annex III, ABC-1, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 15, pp. 1504-35. 

"> Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 May 41, WPD 4175-22; Charts atchd to Memo, WPD for CofS, 
15 May 41, WPD 3493-11. 


The Atlantic Crisis of 1941 

The critical world situation confronting the United States in the spring 
of 1941 raised questions that were not answered by drafting long-range war 
plans. The most pressing of these questions was how to help insure the sur- 
vival of Great Britain. Britain's weakness in early 1941 stemmed primarily 
from its increasingly critical shortage of merchant shipping. In March and 
April the British lost ships to Axis submarine, surface, and air attacks at an 
annual rate of about 7,300,000 gross tons; with a current British shipbuild- 
ing capacity of 1,250,000 tons, continuing losses at that rate would result in 
a net loss to Britain of about 6,000,000 tons a year, or about one fourth its 
available merchant fleet.' The British Isles simply could not long survive 
continued losses of this magnitude. The shipping crisis had been the basis 
for Admiral Stark's prediction in December 1940 that Britain might not be 
able to hold out for more than six months. A month later Secretary Hull, 
in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the pro- 
posed Lend-Lease Act, asserted the necessity for control of the high seas by 
law-abiding nations and called such control "the key to the security of the 
Western Hemisphere." - Enactment of the lend-lease bill on 11 March did 
not in itself furnish much relief for Britain's immediate plight. In fact, the 
great bulk of military material furnished to Great Britain during 1941 con- 
sisted of items ordered before the bill was passed.* The Lend-Lease Act nev- 
ertheless had a very great significance in the evolution of American policy 
toward the war. It meant the abandonment of any pretense of neutrality, 
though it did not necessarily and inevitably mean open participation in the 

'John G. Winant, Letter From Grosvenor Square (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1947) 
hereafter cited as Grosvenor Square), p. 254; Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 
1940-43, pp. 47-50; S. W. Roskill, The War at Sea, 1939-194}. Vol. I, The Defensive (London: 
Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1954), p. 618. 

' Testimony on 15 Jan 41, U.S. Dept of State, Peace and War, Doc. 195, pp. 612-18. 

' For example, less than 100 of the approximately 2,400 airplanes delivered to the British be- 
tween 11 March 1941 and the end of the year were sent under lend-lease. Craven and Cate, AAf 
I, pp. 318-19- Secretary of War Stimson had predicted as much when he advised the President in 
January, "whatever benefit Britain would derive during that period [before 1942] would be mainly 
in the increased morale which such passage would undoubtedly give to the British people." since 
American munitions output could not be greatly increased until 1942. Incl to Memo, SW for 
President. 22 Jan 41, Pearl Harbor Attack. Pt. 20, pp. 4275-80. 



war. Secretary Stimson called the Lend-Lease Act a "limited alliance with a 
warring democracy," and found its justification in the law of self-defense, 
not international law. The Axis Powers in their quest for world domination 
had knocked the bottom out of international law, said Mr. Stimson; Con- 
gress had now shown that it realized the true situation and had pierced 
through the legalistic shadows that had been checking American efforts." 
The Lend-Lease Act had a subtle but profound effect on the attitudes of the 
American people. Its general acceptance made them more receptive toward 
other forthright moves to bolster the British position. During April and early 
May, public opinion surveys indicated that although a substantial majority 
of the people still opposed direct military action outside the Western Hem- 
isphere, an even larger majority indorsed the measures taken during March 
and April to help England. Even when it was expressly pointed out in the 
questioning that continued aid to England would probably lead to war with 
Germany, three fourths of those questioned approved continuing the aid.' 

Independently of the Lend-Lease Act, the United States took steps in 
March and April 1941 that made available to Great Britain about 2,000,000 
additional tons of merchant shipping. Although American shipyards could 
yield little new tonnage for months to come, the United States seized 600,000 
tons of Axis-owned and Danish-owned shipping then lying idle in American 
ports and turned the ships over to the British, and it succeeded in persuad- 
ing the other American republics to follow suit. The government also took 
possession of ships engaged in coastwise traffic and intercoastal operations 
via the Panama Canal and put them into military service. On 11 April Presi- 
dent-Roosevelt declared the Red Sea no longer a combat zone, thus permitting 
American shipping to replace British in carrying materials by way of South 
Africa to the Middle East. The government also used its best efforts to se- 
cure ship repair facilities for damaged British merchant craft in private 
American shipyards.** 

The United States gave other highly important and immediate aid to Great 
Britain during March 1941 when it opened American naval and private ship- 
yards to damaged British warships. Lend-lease funds paid for the cost of their 
repair. The first damaged British warship steamed into New York Harbor 

Statement of Secretary Stimson as recorded in Min of a Conf in OSW, 17 Mar 41, OCS Conf 
Binder 11. 

' Statements based on percentages disclosed by Gallup surveys. Memo, Maj Gen Edwin M. 
Watson for President, 16 May 41, FDR Personal Letters, 11, 1158. 

' Winant, Cmsvenor Square, pp. 254-56; Hull, Memoirs, II, 927-28; Memo, President for Secy 
Knox, 1 Apr 41, Roosevelt Papers; Ltr, SN to President, 21 Mar 4l, summary in Calendar of 
Mopkins Papers, Book IV, Item 1. Last two in FDRL. 



on 19 March. By opening its shipyards to British naval vessels, the United 
States helped to strengthen Britain's means of protecting merchant shipping 
in the North Atlantic, and therefore the move provided an additional method 
of cutting British ship losses.' 

During March the United States made the first moves toward increasing 
and eventually taking over the air ferrying of military planes to Great Brit- 
ain. These moves also promised some relief to the shipping shortage since 
the more planes that were flown, the fewer that would occupy transatlantic 
shipping space. By May the President and his advisers had decided that as 
soon as possible the United States Army should take over all transatlantic 
aircraft ferrying, both to Great Britain in the North Atlantic and to western 
Africa in the South Atlantic.** To carry out this decision would rec^uire many 
new airfield facilities like those Pan American Airways was already begin- 
ning to construct between the United States and the Brazilian bulge. New 
facilities along the northeastern route would have to be provided in New- 
foundland, Labrador, and Greenland, and the development of these facilities 
was to be one important factor in stimulating the projection of American 
military power toward the northeast and Great Britain in the summer of 1941. 
By an agreement of 9 April the United States guaranteed the security of 
Greenland, and on 19 June— a month later than planned— an Army Engineer 
construction force with artillery support sailed for Greenland to begin work 
on the first of its military airfields.'^ 

Naval Plans and Preparations 

The Navy during March was preparing itself for a duty that, if under- 
taken, promised the greater measure of assistance to Great Britain that the 
United States could give at this time. That duty was to participate in the 
escort of convoys across the North Atlantic. Since the beginning of the Eu- 
ropean war, the Navy had maintained an increasingly wide and effective 
patrol in the western Atlantic, and in October 1939 the President had or- 
dered the patrol to broadcast the location of suspicious vessels in plain Eng- 
lish.'" To avoid incidents with the United States the German Navy kept out 
of the western part of the North Atlantic until early 1941, when Hitler (on 
25 March) ordered an extension of the war zone to Greenland and south- 

' Ltr, SN to President, 24 Mar 41; Memo, President for SN, I Apr 41. Both in Roosevelt 
Papers, FDRL. Kitrredge MS, Ch. 15, p. 407. 

" Stimson Diary, entries of 7 Mar, 8 and 11 Apr, and 22 May 41; Winant, Grosvemr Square, 
p. 243; Arnold, Global Mission, p. 241. 

' See Conn Engelman, and Fairrhild, Guarding the United States, Ch. XIII. 

'"See [am above. 



westward to the 38th meridian of longitude." Thereafter it appeared prob- 
able that the Germans would push their submarine and surface raider opera- 
tions even further westward in the near future. Great Britain and Canada 
did not have the naval strength to extend their existing escort system west- 
ward to protect convoys all the way across the North Atlantic. Since the 
United States had decided that its own security demanded British survival, 
and since Britain could be saved only by maintaining a reasonably secure life 
line across the North Atlantic, the logic of the situation seemed to demand 
that the American Navy enter the Battle of the Atlantic. 

Army and Navy leaders had reached this conclusion on 16 December 1S>40, 
and Navy planners drafted their first escort-of-convoy plans during the same 
month. President Roosevelt sanctioned this planning in his oral directive to 
Admiral Stark of 16 January 1941. On the following day, the Navy War Plans 
Division informed Admiral Stark that the Navy could be ready to begin es- 
cort duties across the Atlantic to Great Britain by 1 April. Effective 1 Febru- 
ary, the Navy reorganized its forces and soon thereafter began to train them 
for convoy work in the Atlantic. The United States Fleet was redesignated 
the Pacific Fleet, and the Navy established a separate Atlantic Fleet under the 
command of Vice Adm. Ernest J. King. Two weeks later Admiral Stark 
directed the creation of the Northeastern Escort Force (renamed Support 
Force during March), which began intensive antisubmarine training about 
1 March. By 20 March Secretary Knox was able to present to the President 
a broad plan for Anglo-American naval co-operation in the Atlantic and to 
state that the Navy was ready to execute the plan as soon as directed, although 
it could do so more effectively if allowed six or eight weeks more for special 
training. Under the plan the United States Navy would assume escort duties 
in the eastern as well as western Atlantic and would establish naval and naval 
air bases in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and, eventually, in Iceland.'^ These 
naval plans and preparations had the hearty indorsement of Secretary of War 
Stimson. He and Secretary Knox were "agreed that the crisis is coming very 
soon and that convoying is the only solution and that it must come practi- 
cally at once." 

" Samuel F. Bemis, A Diplomatic History of the United States (New York: Henry Holt and 
Company, 1942 cd.), p. 861 and Map 18. 

Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 44-55; Memo, SN for President, 20 Mar 41, SW file. 
Navy Dept. 

Stimson Diary, entry of 24 Mar 41. On the same day Admiral Stark remarked, "if England 
is to be saved, we will have to get in and quickly," and went on to say that there were things the 
United States would have to do "which may cause war." Notes on SLC mtg, 24 Mar 41, SLC 
Min, Vol. II, Item 1}. 



Thus matters stood when President Roosevelt returned to Washington on 
2 April from a Caribbean cruise. After lengthy conferences with Admiral Stark 
on 2 and 3 April, the President orally approved the Navy's Western Hemi- 
sphere Defense Plan No. 1, upon which the escort plans and naval dispositions 
proposed by Secretary Knox on 20 March had been based. He gave similar 
assent to the transfer of three battleships and other units from the Pacific to 
the Atlantic Fleet, a move necessary to strengthen the latter for its enlarged 
mission.'^ A week after giving preliminary approval to the Navy's convoy plan, 
with its risk of early involvement in the Atlantic war, the President changed 
his mind. Several Cabinet members who had recently been "out West" had 
warned him on 4 April that American public opinion was not yet ready for 
extreme measures.'^ Secretary of State Hull likewise counseled a less aggres- 
sive course of action."* The rapidly changing international situation undoubt- 
edly also influenced the President. During the week the British military 
position in the Mediterranean deteriorated markedly. In Libya the British 
Army was withdrawing rapidly toward the Egyptian border. On 6 April the 
Nazis launched their Balkan offensive against Yugoslavia and Greece, and 
three days later they captured Saloniki. By 16 April the Germans had over- 
run Yugoslavia, the British Expeditionary Force in Greece was in full retreat, 
and the German Afrika Korps was at the Egyptian border. The uncertainty of 
the Japanese situation may also have helped stay the President's hand. The 
Japanese Cabinet was reshuffled on 4 April, and the Army and Navy were 
given stronger representation. Japanese Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, 
having just completed an ostentatious mission to Berlin and Rome, was stop- 
ping off at Moscow on his way home. The result of his Moscow visit was 
the Soviet-Japanese nonaggression pact signed on 13 April. 

Whatever the reasons that may have influenced the President, he decided 
on 10 April that the Congress and the American people were not ready to 
approve the escort of convoys by the United States Navy. Instead, he pro- 
posed to draw a line down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to have the 
Navy patrol west of that line, and to instruct the naval patrols to follow con- 
voys and to notify them of any German vessels discovered nearby. The patrols 
were also to notify British warships so that they could track down the Ger- 
man vessels. The President communicated these intentions to Prime Minister 
Churchill on 11 April and invited him to tell the American Navy about 

Kittredge MS, Ch. 14, p. 375, and Ch. 15, App. A, pp. 312-14; information obtained from 
Captain Kittredge, USN, JCS Hist Sec, in written commentary fof OCMH Strategy Sec. 
" Stimson Diary, entry of 4 Apr 41. 
Kittredge MS, Ch. 15, p. 415. 



British convoy movements in the future so that American patrol vessels could 
seek out Axis ships in the vicinity of convoys." The President at first pro- 
posed to draw the line down the 25th meridian of longitude, but he changed 
this a few days later to the 26th meridian. He also declared that the Ameri- 
can defense zone would include all of Greenland, the protection of which the 
United States had just assumed. Initially, the President intended to announce 
the new patrol plan publicly, but on 15 April he told Secretary Stimson that 
he had decided not to do so— instead, he would simply give the Navy orders 
and allow its actions to speak for themselves.'" 

• On 15 April the President had met with his principal military and naval 
advisers to discuss a modified Navy plan presented by Admiral Stark and 
designed to accomplish the patrol missions proposed by the President five 
days earlier. General Marshall apparently left the meeting without knowing 
that the President had decided to go ahead with the plan without any public 
announcement and, anticipating another White House meeting at which he 
might be called upon for further advice, gathered his principal advisers to- 
gether on the morning of 16 April to consider what that advice should be. 
General Marshall evidently thought that even the modified Navy plan, if 
publicly announced, might lead to war in the very near future. He therefore 
asked his staff: (1) "If we have gotten to a point where we can no longer 
operate on a peacetime status, should he recommend a war status.-"' (2) "Is 
immediate action necessary.-"' These were embarrassing questions for the Chief 
of Staff to ask, for he realized that most immediate actions would have to be 
undertaken by the Navy and not by the Army." General Marshall's questions 
produced a quick analysis by the War Plans Division of the advantages and 
disadvantages of an immediate American entry into the war. The principal 
advantage, as the Army planners saw it, would be that "the United States 
would be awakened to the gravity of the current situation and brought to- 
gether in a cohesive effort that does not prevail today." The principal disad- 
vantage was that the Army was not yet prepared to undenake active military 

" Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, p. 368; Stimson Diary, entry of 10 Apr 41; Winston 
S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. Ill, The Grand Alliance (Boston: Houghton MifHin 
Company, 1950), p. 140; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, p. 435. 

The President's scheme may have been based in part on a proposal contained in a memoran- 
dum to Harry Hopkins from his assistant, Oscar Cox, on 10 April 1941. Cox suggested "that if 
the Western Hemisphere is defined either in legal or geographical terms the definition be such 
that it would keep German raiders out of it, permit the convoying by American naval vessels of 
British and American ships to the end of the Western Hemisphere, and the delivery of goods in 
the Western Hemisphere for trans-shipment to Great Britain." Calendar of Hopkins Papers, Book 
IV, Item 3, FDRL. 

Stimson Diary, entry of 15 Apr 41. 
" Notes on Conf in OCS, 16 Apr 41, OCS Conf Binder 1}. 



operations except on an extremely minor scale. The planners concluded that 
a decision for war should be taken only if it were necessary in order "to avoid 
either a loss of the British Isles or a material change in the attitude of the 
British Government directed toward appeasement." 

General Marshall discussed the War Plans analysis and broader aspects of 
the war situation at a second conference on 16 April. Maj. Gen. Stanley D. 
Embick, a senior Army planner who had been summoned to Washington by 
General Marshall to help advise the President on the Army's position, was 
present. The planners pointed out that, in the event of an immediate entry 
into the war, the 1st Division was ready, and two more Regular Army divi- 
sions would be ready by 1 May, to undertake the Western Hemisphere 
missions specified in ABC-1. Ammunition for the Army was critically short 
and would continue to be so until January 1942. General Embick expressed 
a rather strong personal opinion, from the military viewpoint, against imme- 
diate entry into the war. The Army planners reiterated their stand in favor of 
decisive American action, if that was deemed necessary to save Great Britain. 
In answer to a question by General Marshall, the acting chief of the War 
Plans Division stated that an immediate entry into the war would not seri- 
ously jeopardize the Army's future freedom of action, since the immediate 
Army commitments could not be great.-' 

The Navy embodied the President's decision on action in the Atlantic in 
its Western Hemisphere Defense Plan No. 2, promulgated on 21 April 1941. 
Since the President himself edited the final draft of the plan, it represented 
an officially approved policy and program for action by American armed 
forces. The plan declared that the Western Hemisphere extended from longi- 
tude 26° west in the Atlantic to the International Date Line in the Pacific, 
and included (east of longitude 26°) all of Greenland and all of the Azores. 
Within the Western Hemisphere so defined, the armed forces of the United 
States were to regard the entry of belligerent naval vessels or aircraft, except 

'0 Memo, WPD for CofS, 16 Apr 41, WPD 4402-9. The final clause quoted above referred to 
reports of the difficulties faced by the Churchill ministry because of the disasters overtaking the 
British armies in the eastern Mediterranean. The preceding day, Secretary Stimson had protested 
to General Marshall about criticisms of the Churchill government being made by Army officers. 
"I pointed out that the success of the United States depended on the safety of the British fleet; 
that the safety of the British fleet and its preservation depended on the preservation of the Churchill 
government and the life of the promise made by Churchill last summer to keep the fleet at all 
odds; therefore, in circulating . . . such comment, they were attacking the vital safety of the 
United States." Stimson Diary, entry of 15 Apr 41. 

^' Notes on Conf in OCS, 16 Apr 41, OCS Conf Binder 10. The record of these 16 April con- 
ferences does not disclose General Marshall's own answers to the questions he had posed, nor has any 
evidence been uncovered that he or General Embick presented the Army's views, as developed in 
these meetings, to the President. For a more detailed account, see Watson, Prewar Plans and Prep- 
walions, pp. 386-90. 



those belonging to powers possessing Western Hemisphere territory, "as 
actuated by a possibly unfriendly intent toward the territory or shipping of 
American Powers." The armed forces of the United States that discovered 
belligerent naval vessels or aircraft of the proscribed variety within the West- 
ern Hemisphere were to be instructed to trail them and to broadcast their 
movements "for the purpose of warning American Powers of a possibly hos- 
tile approach." The approach of such belligerent naval vessels or aircraft 
within twenry-five miles of any Western Hemisphere territory, except the 
Azores, would be considered presumptive evidence of intent immediately to 
attack that territory; American armed forces would at once warn the vessels 
or aircraft, and, if the warning went unheeded, attack them. American naval 
forces were not to be scattered promiscuously in the Western Hemisphere 
portion of the Atlantic Ocean but were to cruise along the established ocean 
trade routes. The Atlantic Fleet's Operations Plan No. 3 carried this plan into 
effect as of midnight, 24 April 1941.-' 

The Army promptly drafted instructions to its base commanders in New- 
foundland, Bermuda, and Trinidad that faithfully followed the intent and 
phrasing of Navy Plan No. 2. The Department of State thereupon urged a 
more cautious phrasing, and Secretary Stimson finally had to redraft the mes- 
sage without further consultation with the President or the Department of 
State. It read: 

In case any force of belligerent powers other than of those powers which have sov- 
ereignty over Western Hemisphere territory attacks or threatens to attack any British 
possession on which any Unitea States air or naval base is located, the commander of the 
Army base force shall resist such attack, using all means at his disposal.-' 

Curiously enough, the Army does not appear to have sent comparable instruc- 

" Memo, CNO for SN, 16 Apr 41, WPD 4J51-98, Sec. 6. Though dated 16 April, this copy 
in Army files contains changes made by the President during the weekend of 19-21 April. Memo, 
WPD for CofS, 22 Apr 41, WPD 4351-98, Sec. 6, indicates the President s approval of the plan 
as revised "for planning purposes." The Fleet's operations plan is dated 18 April 1941, but could 
not have been issued before the President's weekend decisions. A personal letter of Admiral Stark 
to the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, dated 19 April 1941 (printed in Pearl Harber Attack, 
Pt. 16, pp. 2163-65), is the best source on the circumstances of the plan; but the postscript of the 
letter could not have been written before Monday, 21 April. Captain Kittredge has treated this 
episode in detail in Chs. 14-16 of his monograph. That the British were promptly notified is indi- 
cated by Churchill in Grand Alliance, p. 142, though they could not have been notified as early 
as 18 April, nor was the plan "announced." 

Technically, the terms of this plan would have been applicable to Japanese naval vessels and 
aircraft operating east of the International Date Line. In practice— before December 1941— the 
Navy did not apply the plan or the plans that superseded it during 1941 to Japanese craft. See Ch. 
[v| below. 

Telg, TAG to CG's First Army and CDC, 10 May 41, WPD 4351-98, Sec. 6. Information 
about the drafting and transmission of this message has also been derived from other papers in 
this file and from Stimson Diary, entry of 10 May 1941. 



tions to its older and larger overseas garrisons in Puerto Rico and the Canal 

Despite the President's decision not to authorize actual escort of merchant 
shipping in the Atlantic, on 18 April he approved the allocation of $50,000,- 
000 of lend-lease funds for construction of American naval and naval air 
bases in Northern Ireland and Scotland. United States naval officers had 
selected the base sites during March when the Navy was actively preparing 
for escort duty across the Atlantic. On the other hand, in mid-April the Presi- 
dent withdrew his earlier approval of the movement of a sizable detachment 
of the Pacific Fleet into the Atlantic and limited the transfer for the time 
being to one aircraft carrier and one destroyer squadron. Admiral Stark ex- 
plained these apparently conflicting decisions by pointing out that although 
Mr. Roosevelt had recently reasserted his intention of following Plan D 
(defensive in the Pacific, preparation for an eventual offensive in the Atlan- 
tic) as a long-range objective, both the President and Secretary Hull wanted 
to maintain the existing naval balance in the Pacific until Japan's intentions 
had been further clarified.^* 

The War and Navy Departments (Stimson, Marshall, Knox, and Stark) 
took vigorous issue with the President and the Department of State on the 
fleet question. The service chiefs wanted the main fleet in the Atlantic not 
only because they wanted to make the patrol system more effective but also 
because they thought the United States might have to undertake expeditionary 
tasks in the very near future that would require strong naval protection— 
probably in the southern Atlantic, where Anglo-American naval power was 
then weakest. They believed, too, that the Japanese would be more impressed 
by an American Navy in action in the Atlantic than by an idle fleet held in 
the eastern Pacific. Secretary Hull, on the other hand, wanted to keep the 
Pacific Fleet intact until he received an answer to overtures he had made to 
Japan in mid-April. The President supported Secretary Hull. In addition, he 
expressed a belief that a strong naval force was needed to guard Hawaii. He 
also wished to follow out his earlier idea of sending detachments of the 
Pacific Fleet on westward cruises to keep the Japanese guessing. Nevertheless, 
the President himself admitted that "there was not going to come much good 
to the British in the patrol . . . with the number of ships available" in the 

This particular issue of "grand strategy" was hotly debated for about three 
weeks. General Marshall answered the President by asserting his opinion that 

Kittredge MS, Ch. 15, pp. 408-09; Ltr, CNO to CinC Pacific Fleet, 19 Apr 41, Pearl Harbor 
Attack. Pt. 16, pp. 2163-65. 

" Stimson Diary, entry of 24 Apr 41. 



Hawaii was impregnable whether there were any ships there or not; Secre- 
tary Stimson and Secretary Knox both concurred. The President then took 
the position that the Pacific Fleet should not be diminished unless the British 
acquiesced in the proposal. British naval representatives at first insisted that 
the United States ought to keep at least six battleships in the Pacific at all 
times, but after they consulted Prime Minister Churchill they reversed their 
stand and agreed that the transfer of the bulk of American naval power to 
the Atlantic would be of great advantage to Great Britain. After the Japanese 
responded to the Secretary of State's proposals on 12 May, Mr. Hull also took 
a more favorable view toward the movement of the fleet. About the same 
time Admiral Stark adopted a more cautious attitude. The net result was that 
while the President on 13 May finally approved the transfer of the three 
battleships and other vessels as originally planned in early April, the proposal 
to move a larger naval force to the Atlantic was postponed for later decision. 
The ships transferred, representing about one fourth of the Pacific Fleet's 
strength, reached Atlantic waters before the end of May. By then the British 
and Canadians had instituted a transatlantic escort system with ships avail- 
able to them for the purpose.^'' 

The Crisis of May 1941 

The extension of naval patrol and other measures taken by the United 
States during March and April 1941 were evidences of the government's 
determination to support the British Commonwealth in its struggle against 
the Axis. In May, amidst a quick succession of ominous events and rumors, 
it looked very much as if the United States would soon have to plunge into 
open participation in the war in order to back up its commitments. Today, 
the war crisis of May 1941 seems much less real than it did at the time. What 
American and British leaders did not know then was that the Germans were 
on the point of concentrating their military might against the Soviet Union. 
The Nazis were very successful in making it appear during May that they 
were again getting reaJy to drive southwestward toward French West Africa 
and the South Atlantic. 

The Germans actually had no immediate intention of moving through 
Spain, though Hitler and his associates had not lost their interest in a future 
southwestward drive. The German Navy considered it highly important to 

" Aide-Memoire. Gen Marshall for President Roosevelt, 24 Apr 41, sub: Def of Hawaii, WPD 
3672-32; Stimson Diary, various entries for period 23 Apr- 14 May 41; Stimson and Bundy, On 
Active Service, pp. 386-87; Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 56-58; Butler, Grand Strategy, 
II, 502-03. 



gain control of northwestern Africa as soon as possible, both for its own 
operational use and to keep Great Britain and the United States from getting 
a foothold there — the Germans themselves believing that an African opera- 
tion would offer the United States the best opportunity to intervene in the 
war effectively. The Germans had their eyes on Dakar, but they could not 
get to Dakar except by agreement with the French. In mid-March Hitler 
stated that there was no hope at the moment of negotiating with either France 
or Spain and that Germany would have to wait until it completed its con- 
quest of the Soviet Union before forcing a decision of the French "problem" 
and the Spanish "question." He expected to be able to move toward north- 
western Africa by autumn 1S>41.'' At the end of March Hitler harangued his 
subordinates for more than two hours on the reasons for smashing the Soviet 
Union first. "Only the final and drastic solution of all land problems," he 
stated, "will enable us to accomplish within two years our tasks in the air 
and on the oceans with the manpower and material resources at our dis- 

The German tide of victory in the eastern Mediterranean during April 
reopened the prospect of securing French collaboration. In late April Marshal 
Petain let the United States know that the Germans were inquiring about 
French willingness to permit passage of German troops through unoccupied 
France and French North Africa so that they could reach Spanish Morocco 
and attack Gibraltar, and both Petain and Vice Premier Admiral Darlan pri- 
vately expressed the fear that Vichy would not be able to resist German de- 
mands of this sort. Although Marshal Petain repeated to President Roosevelt 
his earlier assurances that France would not agree to any form of collabora- 
tion with Germany beyond the terms of the armistice agreement of 1940, 
Admiral Leahy advised the President that even if Petain refused to agree to 
new German demands it "would have little or no deterrent effect upon the 

The Nazi Fuehrer summoned Admiral Darlan to a conference at Berchtes- 
gaden on 11 May, and Darlan brought back to Vichy a general agreement 
for French collaboration with the Germans. Despite American warnings, 

Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, I, 28, entry of 18 Mar 41. A German staff study dated 11 March 
proposed an attack on Gibraltar, by troops and equipment withdrawn from the Eastern Front, as 
soon as German forces had penetrated to the Kiev-Smolensk line. British Cabinet Office, Histori- 
cal Branch, "Operation FELIX: German Plans for Spain and the Capture of Gibraltar (June 
1950)," Pt. I, Political Considerations, in Axis Plans and Operations in the Mediterranean, Sep- 
tember 1939-February 1941, pp. 29-JO. 

" Haider Journal, VI, 41, entry of 30 Mar 41. 

" Ltr, President Roosevelt to Prime Minister Churchill, 4 May 41, FDR Persona/ Letters, II, 
1148-50. See also Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 144-45. 



Marshal Petain announced on 15 May that the Vichy ministry had unani- 
mously approved the agreement. He also expressed the hope that further 
negotiations on the details of collaboration would produce a more specific 
understanding that would permit France to "surmount her defeat and pre- 
serve in the world her rank as a European and colonial power." President 
Roosevelt at once warned the marshal against any voluntary military collabo- 
ration with Germany, and the United States emphasized this warning by 
seizing eleven French ships then in American ports, including the liner Nor- 
mandie. Whatever the marshal's true intentions may have been at the time, 
the President and the Department of State certainly had very little faith in 
Petain's ability to resist German demands, and Secretary Hull justified the 
ship seizures on the ground that French collaboration had already gone be- 
yond the terms of the armistice agreement. A succession of exchanges between 
Washington and Vichy finally produced a new French note, delivered to the 
Department of State on 27 May 1941, promising that the Vichy Government 
would not surrender French warships or colonial territory to Germany and 
that French collaboration with Germany would not go beyond the terms of 
the armistice. Nevertheless, on the very next day Admiral Darlan and the 
German ambassador signed three protocols providing for a variety of collab- 
orative measures. Among them was a provision that German submarines 
might be based on Dakar from 15 July 1941 onward and that German surface 
and air forces could be based there at some later date as well. The Vichy Gov- 
ernment at first approved the Darlan protocols and then, on 6 June, reversed 
its position and disapproved them. Hitler by then was starting the large- 
scale movement of German forces toward the Soviet frontier, and for the time 
being he ignored this French recalcitrance.*" 

A fortnight earlier, on 22 May, Hitler and some of his principal advisers 
had engaged in an extensive canvass of the Atlantic situation. They agreed 
that the Canary Islands must be reinforced to prevent seizure by British or 
American forces. They also agreed that Germany had the means to capture 
the Azores, but that it probably did not have the means to hold them indefi- 
nitely in the face of strong British or American attacks. At any rate, to cap- 
ture and hold the Azores would require a concentration of all available Ger- 
man naval forces in the Atlantic, including submarines, and this would mean 
abandoning the Batde of the Atlantic. Hitler himself was still anxious to 
occupy the Azores as soon as possible, "in order to be able to operate long- 
range bombers from there against the United States," and he hoped the 

Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp, 159, 407-08; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 
497-510; Leahy, / Was There, pp. 31-32; Hull, Memoirs, II, 962-66. 



opportunity to do so might arise by autumn 1941. But while he sympathized 
with his Navy's plea for permission to take more drastic action against 
American naval and merchant shipping in the North Atlantic, he refused to 
grant permission. Hitler said he believed that President Roosevelt's attitude 
toward full participation in the war was still undecided, and under no cir- 
cumstances did he want to create incidents that would lead to American entry 
into the war, "especially since Japan will probably come in only if the United 
States is the aggressor." " 

Marshal Petain's announcement on 15 May that France had agreed to col- 
laborate with Germany had had an almost electrifying effect in Washington. 
President Roosevelt and his advisers interpreted it as a portent of German 
intentions to launch an immediate drive toward the South Atlantic and of 
Nazi determination to follow up recent victories in the eastern Mediterranean 
with an all-out effort to knock Great Britain out of the war. The President 
decided he ought to address Congress on the gravity of the situation facing 
the nation and indicate what he believed should be done about it. On 16 May 
he told Secretary Hull that he wanted to send a special representative to Lis- 
bon to find out what Portugal intended to do with respect to the Azores. On 
the same day General Marshall, with Department of State approval, sent his 
chief Latin American planner, Lt. Col. Matthew B. Ridgway, posthaste to 
Rio de Janeiro to seek permission for the immediate entry of Army forces to 
assist in the protection of northeastern Brazil.'^ Across the Atlantic, it 
occurred to Mr. Churchill on 16 May that the United States ought to occupy 
Martinique at once in order to prevent it from being turned into a German 
submarine base. Four Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee in a public statement on 17 May urged this course." 

When General Marshall reached his office on Monday morning, 19 May, 
he called in the chiefs of his War Plans and Intelligence Divisions to get 
their estimates of the French and Caribbean situations. The chief of G-2 said 
that it looked as though Vichy had capitulated to the Germans and that "we 
can expect them to do anything the Germans want." While he did not think 
the Germans would try to land troops anywhere in the Western Hemisphere 
in the near future, he agreed that a German seizure of Dakar would have a 
profound effect on the attitude of Brazil. The War Plans chief then reviewed 

" Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, I, 62-76, entry of 22 May 41. 

" Memo, Maj Lemuel Mathewson for Gen Gerow, WPD, 21 May 41, WPD 4224-150; Memo, 
Col Ridgway for Gen Gerow, 23 Jul 41, WPD 4115-52. 

" The effect of Petain's 15 May announcement has been gauged primarily on the basis of 
various items in the Roosevelt Papers, FDRL, and on entries in the Stimson Diary. For Church- 
ill's note, see Grand Alliance, p. 765. 



the Martinique plan for General Marshall and discussed with him proposals 
for rushing Army air reinforcements to the Caribbean.''* After this briefing, 
General Marshall went to the first meeting of Secretary Stimson's new War 
Council. The Chief of Staff told the council (which consisted of the Secre- 
tary and his principal civilian and military advisers) that the Army had about 
40,000 troops available for overseas emergency expeditionary force use, and 
he urged, in view of the uncertainty in the attitude of French West African 
officials and of the German threat toward Dakar, that negotiations with Bra- 
zil be pressed and more troops be sent to Trinidad." 

While the Army was thus re-examining its ability to deal with an emer- 
gency, the President was seeking advice on the position he should take in 
his proposed address to Congress. On this same day, 19 May, he asked Un- 
der Secretary of State Welles to draft a message that would in effect have 
extended the Monroe Doctrine to include western Africa and the eastern At- 
lantic islands, The President had also solicited the professional advice of the 
eminent geographer Dr. Isaiah Bowman, president of the Johns Hopkins 
University, as to what the generally recognized division between the Old 
and New Worlds was in the Atlantic. Dr. Bowman advised that a midocean 
line drawn along the 25 th meridian was geographically defensible at every 
point except with respect to the Azores, which were generally recognized 
as a part of the Old World, but urged the President to consider whether or 
not it was wise to take a stand on any fixed line. The United States, Dr. Bow- 
man felt, might be in a better position to act if it had not limited its sphere 
of action in advance. Both Secretary Stimson and Secretary Hull argued against 
the idea of extending the coverage of the Monroe Doctrine across the South 
Atlantic to Africa. As Mr, Hull put it, a German occupation of West Africa 
would pose a threat to the Western Hemisphere that had "better be stated 
nakedly without raising a technical Monroe Doctrine issue.""^ 

It appeared to Secretary Stimson as well as to others that President Roose- 
velt during these tense days was finding it difficult to make up his mind as to 
how American policy toward the Atlantic threat should be defined. The Sec- 
retary of War was worried "because the President shows evidence of waiting 
for the accidental shot of some irresponsible captain on either side to be the 
occasion of his going to war." Instead, Mr. Stimson thought that the Presi- 

Notes on Conf in OCS, 19 May 41, OCS Conf Binder 15. 
Notes on War Council mtg, 19 May 41, SW Conf Binder 1. 

Memo, Secy State Hull for President, 25 May 4l, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. On the proposed 
Monroe Doarine extension, see also Hull, Memoirs, II, 959-60, and "Memo of Interview with the 
President, Tuesday, May 20, 1941," Stimson Diary. On the approach to Dr. Bowman, see Ltr, 
Dr. Bowman to President Roosevelt, 19 May 41, and other papers in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



dent "ought to be considering the deep principles which underlie the issue 
in the world and . . . [which have] divided the world into two camps, [in] 
one of which he is the leader," and that the President ought to define these 
principles clearly in his forthcoming speech." In fact, the President had an 
extremely difficult decision to make. He believed the situation was sufficiently 
critical to require a strong statement of policy, but he also knew that Ameri- 
can military means to back up such a statement were still very limited. First 
he decided to drop the idea of extending the scope of the Monroe Doctrine 
beyond the recognized bounds of the Western Hemisphere. Then he decided 
to deliver a radio address to the nation rather than a more official message 
to Congress. When the President learned on 24 May that the Germans had 
loosed their monster battleship Bismarck into the western North Atlantic, 
and that after sinking the British battle cruiser Hood the Bismarck had dis- 
appeared, he also decided to proclaim an unlimited national emergency.'* 

The President delivered his address on 27 May. He painted the British 
military position in dark colors and stated that the war was "approaching 
the brink of the Western Hemisphere itself" He asserted that German oc- 
cupation of any of the southern Atlantic islands, or of Iceland or Greenland 
to the north, would place portions of the Western Hemisphere in immediate 
jeopardy and ultimately would threaten the security of the United States it- 
self. Observing that the Axis Powers could never achieve their objective of 
world domination unless they first gained control of the seas, the President 
termed control of the seas "their supreme purpose today." To dominate the 
Atlantic, the Nazis had first to capture Britain. Once masters of the Atlantic, 
the Axis Powers would "then have the power to dictate to the Western Hem- 
isphere." In effect, the President was saying that henceforth the United States 
would have to be assured of friendly control of the oceans — not just the 
Western Hemisphere portions of them— and that the maintenance of such 
control would thereafter be the crucial factor in determining the defense meas- 
ures of the United States. To assure friendly control of the seas, the United 
States would have to "give every possible assistance to Britain and to all 
who, with Britain, are resisting Hitlerism." The President concluded his 
speech by announcing that, in order to strengthen American defense "to the 
extreme limit of our national power and authority," he had issued a procla- 
mation of unlimited national emergency." 

" Stimson Diary, entry of 23 May 41. 
Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 296. 

" The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, compiled by Samuel I. Rosen- 
man, 1941 volume: Call to Battle Stations (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950) (hereafter cited 
as FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1941), pp. 181-94. 



The President's speech and proclamation had much more of a dramatic 
than practical effect. The Army's Judge Advocate General could not discern 
how the new proclamation "changed our status one iota from that which 
we held during the limited emergency" proclaimed in September 1959-^ 
In a press conference on 28 May, the President himself indicated that he had 
no intention of following up his speech with any new or drastic defense meas- 
ures. Yet to Army observers the current military outlook seemed bleak in- 
deed, and the need for action of some sort mandatory. A few hours before 
the President spoke, representatives of all the General Staff divisions and of 
General Headquarters met in a secret conference to discuss the war outlook. 
They acknowledged among themselves the probability of England's defeat, 
and they unanimously agreed on predictions that the British would lose the 
Suez Canal within six weeks and control over the Strait of Gibraltar within 
three months. They also agreed that the most the United States Army could 
do in the Atlantic before November 1941 was to deploy one small, unbal- 
anced force, without combat aviation, and that even this force could not be 
used within one thousand miles of the coasts of Europe or Africa.*' On the 
day of the President's address, the American military attache in London, Brig. 
Gen. Raymond E. Lee, confessed his firm conviction that, while Britain prob- 
ably could resist a direct invasion, he could not see how the British Empire 
was ever going to defeat Germany "without the help of God or Uncle 
Sam." *^ Four days later the executive officer for administering the lend-lease 
program, Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, informed the Wihte House that in his 
opinion the time had come to "face the all-out effort and to place odds on 
such a basis." 

The Azores and Brazil 

During the last week of May it looked very much as though the next 
military step to deal with the Atlantic crisis might be the dispatch of United 
States ground and air forces to protect either the Azores or northeastern Brazil. 

After President Roosevelt asked Secretary Hull on 16 May to sound out 
Portugal's attitude with respect to defense of the Azores, the Department of 
State first consulted with the British (since Portugal was Britain's ally) to 

■»» Memo, SGS for CofS, 29 May 41, OCS Conf Binder 15. 

Memo, G-2 GHQ for CofS GHQ, 28 May 41, GHQ 381, Sec. 1. 
" Ltr, Gen Lee to Ambassador John G. Winant, 27 May 41, quoted in Sherwood, Roosevelt 
and Hopkins, pp. 301-02. 

Memo, Gen Burns for Mr. Hopkins, 31 May 41, Calendar of Hopkins Papers, Book III, 
Item 7, FDRL. 



determine their reaction to the President's proposal. At Ambassador Hali- 
fax's request, the Department of State agreed to let Great Britain make the 
approach to Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar of Portugal to dis- 
cover what his government proposed to do in the event of a German attack 
and whether he would be receptive to the idea of a temporary protective oc- 
cupation of the Azores by United States forces. On 22 May, before answers 
to these questions were received through the British, President Roosevelt 
directed the Army and Navy to prepare a joint plan that would permit an 
American expeditionary force sufficiently strong to insure successful occupa- 
tion and defense of the Azores under any circumstances to be dispatched 
within one month's time.** 

The Army and Navy had been considering for many months past the 
possibility of being called upon to occupy the Azores. They had drafted the 
first informal joint plan for such an operation in October 1940. In early 1941 
the Army War Plans Division, in reviewing the earlier plan and assessing 
the current situation, had concluded that an American occupation of the 
Azores was not essential to hemisphere defense and should not be under- 
taken unless the United States openly entered the war in concert with Great 
Britain. Although the Azores lie athwart the shipping lanes between the 
United States and the Mediterranean and between Europe and South America, 
the Army considered them too far north in the Atlantic to be of any value 
as a defensive outpost against a German approach toward South America 
via Africa. The islands had a much greater potential strategic value for Great 
Britain than for the United States since, if Gibraltar fell, they would provide 
the British with an alternative naval base from which to cover the shipping 
lanes in the eastern Atlantic. At the beginning of 1941 the Azores were vir- 
tually defenseless, and the Army planners believed that the chief threat to 
American forces that might be stationed in the islands would be from Ger- 
man airpower based in France. Air defense of the Azores would be difficult 
since the islands then had no airfields capable of handling modern combat 

Under the ABC-1 War Plan, the Azores and the other Atlantic islands 
(Madeira, the Canaries, and the Cape Verdes) would, in case of open war. 

Memo of Conv, Dept of State, 17 May 41, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; Memo, Lt Col Charles 
W. Bundy for ACofS WPD, 23 May 41, WPD 4422-3; Hull, Memoirs. II, 939-41. See also, Lan- 
ger and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 366-70, and Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, 
pp. 44-50, on the background of the Azores directive. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 24 Jan 41; WPD study, n.d. [early February 1941?]. Both in WPD 




fall within the British area of primary responsibility, although American 
naval forces might be requested to assist the British in the occupation of the 
Azores and the Cape Verdes. Until the President issued his directive of 22 
May, neither the Army nor the Navy anticipated that Army troops Would 
be called upon to help secure the Azores."^ The President and the Navy knew 
that the British had plans for occupying both the Azores and the Cape Verdes 
as soon as possible after a German move into Spain. While the Army's 1st 
Division in mid-May was earmarked for an Azores expedition, as well as for 
many other possible operations,** there had seemed little likelihood of em- 
ploying it for this purpose. 

President Roosevelt's order of 22 May led to hasty Army and Navy plan- 
ning during the next five days to line up the proposed expeditionary force 
and arrange for it to receive as much preliminary training as possible. One 
of the principal difficulties was to find enough suitable shipping to transport 
it. As finally worked out, the plan called for an expeditionary force of 28,000 
troops, half Army and half Marine, with strong naval and naval air support. 
The Army and Marine 1st Divisions were to supply the infantry contingents. 
To move the force would require a total of forty-one transports and other 
noncombatant vessels. The expedition was to be commanded by Admiral 
King, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, and the landing force by Brig. 
Gen. Holland M. Smith, commander of the 1st Marine Division. At first, 
the services planned to send twelve combat landing teams (nine Marine, three 
Army) to the north shore of Puerto Rico for joint amphibious training. On 

26 May this idea had to be abandoned because of the lack of sufficient ship- 
ping to carry the troops to and from Puerto Rico. Instead, limited amphibi- 
ous training exercises were to be held at Atlantic coast points closer to the 
Azores— for the Army's 1st Division combat teams, in Buzzards Bay, Massa- 
chusetts. The shipping shortage was thereby solved, but the ammunition 
supply was certain to be short of estimated requirements. Nevertheless, by 

27 May the general terms of an Azores expeditionary force plan that could 
be executed in time to meet the President's deadline of 22 June had been 
agreed upon. The planners thereupon drafted a formal joint plan (code name. 

46 WPD Memo for File, 16 May 41, WPD 4422-2; Memo, CNO for CofS, 22 May 41, sub: 
Analysis of Plans for Overseas Operations, OPD Exec 13, General Malony Binder 1. 

Msg, Prime Minister Churchill to President Roosevelt, 24 Apr 41, Churchill, Grand Alli- 
ance, pp. 143-45; Msg, Adm Ghormley to CNO, 7 May 41, cited in Kittredge MS, Ch 16, note 
45, p. 326. 

Incl, title: Emergency Expeditionary Force Plan, to Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 May 41, WPD 



Gray), which the Joint Board approved on 29 May, though an effort also 
to get the President's approval of it on the same day failed.'*' 

Six days before the Army received the President's Azores directive, atten- 
tion had hurriedly been turned in another direction— toward Brazil. The Army 
and Navy had agreed since the initial Rainbow planning of 1939 that the 
most vital region to be defended in South America was the Natal area of 
Brazil. By May 1941 the military airfield program being sponsored by the 
United States Army was well under way in the Caribbean area and along 
the northeastern coast of Brazil. The air base sites and partially developed 
fields in Brazil were virtually unprotected, and if left undefended might offer a 
Nazi air invasion from Africa a ready-made approach route to the Caribbean, 
instead of serving their intended purpose of providing an American air defense 
route to the Brazilian bulge. During the fall and winter of 1940-41 the Army 
had discussed with Brazilian military authorities the possibility of placing 
American air base security detachments at the various airfield sites, but it 
had not been able to persuade the Brazilians to agree.'" Brazil's first open 
military collaboration with the United States was with the Navy. The Navy's 
Western Hemisphere Defense Plan No. 2 had provided for co-operative ac- 
tion with Brazilian naval forces in the patrol of the South Atlantic. Although 
Brazil did not immediately participate in the patrol, it did agree in April to 
open two Brazilian ports to American naval vessels, and thereby it estab- 
lished a precedent for the entry of Army forces into Brazil." A month later, 
the prospect of an imminent German drive southwestward had led to Colo- 
nel Ridgway's urgent mission to Rio de Janerio. 

While Colonel Ridgway was talking with Brazilian authorities, the War 
Plans Division was formulating the Army's view as to "the most practicable 
immediate course of action to prevent the entrance of Axis military power 
in the Western Hemisphere." The Army planners currently viewed the 
war situation and the probable course of German action in these terms: 

II. The Situation. Germany is now engaged in a struggle for control of the Mediter- 
ranean, the Suez Canal, the oil fields of Iraq and Iran, and North Africa. Prospects for 

Ltr, CNO to CinC Pacific Fleet, 24 May 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 16, pp. 2168-70; vari- 
ous papers, dated 23 May-2 Jun 41, WPD 4422-3, WPD 4422^, WPD 4232-5, WPD 4232-10, 
WPD 4232-11, AG 353 (5-23-41), Sec. 1, AG 370.5 (5-26-41), OPD Exec 13. Also, Notes on 
War Council mtg, 26 May 41, SW Conf Binder 1; Diary of Brig Gen Leonard T. Gerow, entries of 
29 May and 2 Jun 41, OPD Exec File; Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-45, 
pp. 68-71. 

' For details of the negotiations with Brazil during this period, see Ch. XI below, and Langer 
and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 518ff. 

Pars. 2 and 3, Navy Western Hemisphere Def Plan No. 2, 16 Apr 4l, copy in WPD 4351- 
98, Sec. 6; Notes on SLC mtg, 21 Apr 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 20. 

" Study dated 22 May 1941, inclosed as Tab A to Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 May 41, WPD 
4224-15 5. 



German success are good. By her air force, Germany now holds the initiative in the West- 
ern and Central Mediterranean. There are repeated reports of German infiltration toward 
Dakar. The Vichy Government has finally submitted to German domination. French 
West Africa is open to use by Germany for bases for extension of Nazi power to South 

III. Assumption. That immediate and vigorous preparations are being made to extend 
Axis political, economic, and military power to South America. 

IV. Axis Courses of Action. The first and most logical Axis step to project Axis power 
into South America would be to establish a base on the West Coast of Africa. The ob- 
vious advantages of a base in the Dakar area, coupled with the fact that Dakar is in French 
hands and Axis domination of France is increasing, make it apparent, without further ex- 
position, that Dakar would be the prospective Axis base site. 

The most effective response to this German threat would be to dispatch a 
large expeditionary force to Dakar, or to British West Africa further to the 
south. But the Army had already calculated that such a force would have to 
number between 100,000 and 115,000 troops— far beyond existing Army 
means— in order to assure success. A force of this strength could not be sent 
to Africa before November 1941 at the earliest. Yet the planners believed 
that the United States ought to do something— as their study put it, "there 
is almost universal opinion that Blue [the United States} should adopt some 
course of action in the immediate future to forestall Axis intentions toward 
South America." The United States had the means to develop naval and air 
bases in Brazil, and that was the immediately practicable course of action 
that War Plans recommended to General Marshall on 27 May." 

In considering the Azores and Brazil projects, Army planners had to bear 
in mind the qualified commitment already made in ABC-1 to send Army 
forces to the British Isles and Iceland sometime after 1 September 1941. Cur- 
rent and prospective shortages of air and antiaircraft artillery forces, and of 
ammunition, made it appear unlikely that the Army could carry out effec- 
tively more than one of these projects before early 1942. As between the 
Azores and Brazil proposals, only the latter would be of direct advantage in 
hemisphere defense. The Azores operation would detract much more than 
the Brazilian from American ability to carry out the ABC-1 commitment. 
On the basis of these observations and assumptions, a War Plans study of 
27 May contended that the United States would have to choose between 
"two mutually exclusive courses of action which can be undertaken effec- 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 May 41, and atchd Tab A, WPD 4224-155. War Plans had pro- 
duced a study on the possibilities of a Dakar operation on 7 May 1941 (copy in OPD Exec 13). 
The planners also dismissed an occupation of the Cape Verde Islands as a practicable alternative 
to the Brazilian proposal; unless United States or other friendly forces also held Dakar and the 
adjacent African coast, the Cape Vetdes would be untenable. Memo, WPD for CofS, 14 Jun 41, 
OPD Exec 4, Item 7. 



tively with the Army forces available during the coming summer and fall." 
These were: 

(1) To protect our interests and the Western Hemisphere by assisting the British to 
maintain their position and ultimately defeat Germany. 

(2) To postpone Army aid to the British in order to insure the immediate security of 
the Western Hemisphere against possible Nazi attack or political control [through sub- 
version] in Brazil. 

This study concluded by recommending the second course of action, to be 
implemented on the one hand by the immediate dispatch of a balanced 
United States Army force to the Natal area and on the other by making every 
effort to prepare the forces required to carry out the ABC-1 commitment at 
some date later than 1 September 1941. If this recommendation were dis- 
approved, then the British should be consulted as to their preference between 
an Azores expedition and carrying out the ABC-1 commitment during 1S>41, 
since the United States Army could not do both. If the decision were for 
the Azores, the expedition should be postponed at least until 15 August 1941 
in order to assure its success through adequate training and preparation.'* 

The Crisis Resolved 

President Roosevelt left Washington for Hyde Park on Thursday, 29 May, 
without having made a final decision as to the immediate course that the 
United States should follow to combat the Nazi menace in the Atlantic. 
Eight days later, on 6 June, he announced to Secretaries Hull, Stimson, and 
Knox certain vital decisions, both as to what should be done in the Atlantic 
and as to the reinforcement of the Atlantic Fleet." The most significant of 
these decisions was that American troops should be sent as soon as possible 
to replace British forces then occupying Iceland. 

Before announcing his decisions, which fixed a line of action that, for the 
time being, excluded the possibility of sending an expeditionary force to the 
Azores, the President had on 4 June approved the Azores plan. But it was 
a qualified approval, for at the same time he directed the armed forces to 
prepare an alternate plan for an unopposed garrisoning of the islands."^ Be- 
fore taking this action, the President had received word through the Navy 
that, although the Azores had been substantially reinforced by troops from 
Portugal, these forces and the Portuguese Government would probably wel- 

Memo, Lt Col Lee S. Gerow for Gen Gerow, 27 May 41, and Incl, WPD 4422-5. 
" Stimson Diary, entry of 6 Jun 4l. 

President's notation, dated 4 Jun 41, on Ltr, JPC to JB, 28 May 41, JB 325, ser 694; Memo, 
WPD for AOofS G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4, 6 Jun 41, WPD 4422-8. 



come an American occupation if the Germans invaded Portugal itself.'^ Also, 
at the President's suggestion, the Department of State had invited Brazil to 
contribute a token force to any expedition that might be sent either to the 
Azores or to the Cape Verdes.'* 

On the same day that the President approved the Azores plan, Under 
Secretary of State Welles presented him with information that would in all 
probability have postponed American action in any case. On 30 May Mr. 
Churchill had informed the President that Great Britain was prepared to oc- 
cupy the Cape Verde Islands, Grand Canary, and one of the Azores, should 
the Germans march into Spain. The Prime Minister had stated then that he 
would welcome American collaboration in the occupation of the Azores. On 
the same day Portugal informed Great Britain that while it might accept the 
aid of its British ally it did not want that of a nation with which it had no 
existing political commitments. The President's address of 27 May, said the 
Portuguese ambassador to London, had alarmed Portuguese public opinion, 
and Prime Minister Salazar felt that any invitation to the Americans would 
have to be deferred. The British therefore suggested to the United States on 
2 June that it bow out of the Azores picture for the time being." 

The Iceland decision had more of a political than military background, 
although it grew out of the commitment in the ABC-1 plan that, if the United 
States joined in the war, American troops would be sent to relieve the Brit- 
ish garrison there, though not before 1 September 1941. As of 22 May, the 
Navy wanted to drop this commitment, and at the end of the month the 
Army proposed that the British be asked to release the United States from 
it.*" Army planners held that Iceland had little strategic value as an outpost 
from which to defend the Western Hemisphere.*^' 

But Iceland did have great strategic value for the defense of the British 
Isles and the North Atlantic seaway. After the British and Canadians ex- 
tended their escort system across the Atlantic in the late spring of 1S>41, Ice- 
land served as a much needed intermediate naval and air base. In the Presi- 
dent's speech of 27 May he had taken the position that successful hemisphere 
defense depended upon the salvation of Great Britain and its oceanic life line 
across the North Atlantic. From this broad point of view both friendly con- 

" Cablegram, ALUSNA Lisbon to OPNAV, 26 May 41, copy in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
Memo, President for Secy State, 31 May 41, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; Hull, Memoirs, II, 


Ltr, Under Secy Welles to President Roosevelt, 4 Jun 41, inclosing Memo, British Embassy 
for Dept of State, 2 Jun 4 1 , Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

Memo, CNO for CofS, 22 May 41, OPD Exec 13, General Malony Binder 1; Memo, OCS 
for CofS, 31 May 41, WPD 4175-22. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 14 Jun 41, OPD Exec 4, Item 7. 



trol and effective military use of Iceland were vital to the national security 
of the United States. 

On the eve of his unlimited national emergency address, President Roose- 
velt had approached Mr. Churchill on the subject of Iceland, and on 29 May 
the Prime Minister responded that he would cordially welcome an immedi- 
ate relief of the British forces there.*^^ On 30 May the United States Am- 
bassador to Great Britain, John G. Winant, arrived in New York to make 
a personal report on the situation and also to deliver to the President some 
confidential papers addressed to him by the Prime Minister. The ambassador 
was told by telephone from Hyde Park to go on to Washington and stay at 
the White House.*'' Mr. Winant subsequently told Secretary Stimson that 
the two principal objectives of his visit were, first, to make sure of the safety 
of convoys of foodstuffs and munitions to Great Britain and, second, to ar- 
range to have United States naval strength on hand in the North Atlantic 
"when the attack is made on Great Britain later on by way of invasion." ^ 
From Mr. Churchill, the ambassador brought specific requests for an exten- 
sion of American naval activity in the North Atlantic and for American troops 
to replace British forces in Iceland.^' 

On Monday afternoon, 2 June, Mr. Harry Hopkins (who then resided in 
the White House) asked Secretaries Stimson and Knox to join him in a dis- 
cussion of the British situation and the steps that the United States ought 
to take to remedy it. One can only surmise that Mr. Winant may have al- 
ready intimated to Mr. Hopkins the contents of the report and messages that 
he had brought from London. According to Secretary Stimson's record of 
this meeting, the discussion turned to a consideration of "further and more 
effective means of pushing up the situation, particularly by action in the north- 
east." Secretary Knox suggested American action with respect to Iceland, 
and both Mr. Stimson and Mr. Hopkins heartily concurred in the sugges- 
tion. According to the Secretary of War, General Marshall also indorsed it 
immediately after the White House conference.'^*' At the War Council meet- 
ing the next morning, Mr. Stimson asked General Marshall to investigate 
the "possibilities in case we take vigorous action in the Northeast," by which 
he meant sending an expeditionary force to Iceland.'^^ Later on the same day, 

" Langet and Gleason, Undeclared War, p. 523. 

^' Winanc, Grosvenor Square,' p^. 194-95. In timing che incidents of this period, the author 
has also profited from an examination of the President's appointment books in the Franklin D. 
Roosevelt Library. 

Stimson Diary, entry of 5 Jun 41. 
Winant, Grosvenor Square, p. 203. 
''^ Stimson Diary, entry of 2 Jun 41. 

Notes on War Q>uncil mtg, 3 Jun 41, SW Q>nf Binder 1; Stimson Diary, entry of 3 Jun 41. 



Mr. Stimson and Mr. Knox met with Secretary of State Hull and were at 
least partially successful in persuading him to support the Iceland project. 
After this meeting, General Marshall delivered to Mr. Stimson a staff report 
on the relative merits of an Iceland, as against an Azores, operation and ex- 
pressed his preference for the former.*^' 

President Roosevelt returned to Washington on 3 June, and at noon Mr. 
Winant joined him to deliver his report and the messages from Prime Min- 
ister Churchill. After discussing matters with the ambassador, the President 
indicated his tentative approval both of the Iceland proposal and of more 
vigorous American naval activity in the North Atlantic.*^' On 4 June the 
Army planners were told to prepare a plan for the immediate relief of the 
British forces in Iceland. It was at once clear to them that there was not 
enough shipping to carry out the Azores and the Iceland operations simul- 
taneously. Three days later the Army suspended its planning and prepara- 
tions for an Azores expedition.^" The investigation of Army capabilities 
quickly convinced the President that the Marine Corps would have to con- 
tribute the initial contingent even for Iceland, and on 5 June he directed 
Admiral Stark to prepare a reinforced Marine brigade for dispatch to Iceland 
within fifteen days. On 6 June the President confirmed his decision to send 
a United States force as soon as the Icelandic Government requested Ameri- 
can protection, and he tentatively decided also to order the transfer of a sec- 
ond quarter of the Pacific Fleet to the Atlantic.^' 

These decisions in all probability reflected the President's new conviction 
that the Nazis were preparing to launch an all-out attack against the Soviet 
Union. Ambassador Winant told the President that before he left London 
British Intelligence sources had indicated the likelihood of a Nazi-Soviet 
struggle. During the first week of June the Department of State likewise re- 
ceived what Secretary Hull has called "convincing cables" from its represen- 
tatives in Bucharest and Stockholm asserting that the Germans would in- 
vade the Soviet Union within a fortnight.^^ Should these reports be true, the 

^* Stimson Diary, entry of 3 Jun 41. There is an unsigned and undated report in the GHQ- 
OPD Indigo "A" file, discussing the merits of the two operations. It concludes that unless the 
United States were prepared to enter the war as an active belligerent, it should not undertake either 
an Iceland or an Azores expedition. If one had to be undertaken, the report favored the Azores. 
This may be the staff report delivered by the Chief of Staff to Mr. Stimson on 3 June. 
Stimson Diary, entry of 5 Jun 41. 

'0 Memo, WPD for CofS, 5 Jun 4l, OPD Exec 13; Gerow Diary, entries of 4 and 7 Jun 41. 
For a detailed survey of the Iceland operation and its background, see Conn, Engelman, and Fair- 
child, Guarding the United Srates, Ch. XIV. 

" Information obtained from Captain Kittredge, USN, JCS Hist Sec, in written commentary 
for OCMH Strategy Sec; Stimson Diary, entries of 6 and 18 Jun 41, and "Memo of Talk with Sec 
Knox at Woodley, 20 June 41"; Butler, Grand Strategy, II, 507. 
Winant, Grosvenor Square, p. 204; Hull, Memoirs. II, 973- 



United States could act with comparative safety along very different lines 
from those proposed during late May. It need no longer fear an immediate 
German drive toward the South Atlantic, and it probably could take much 
more forceful action in the North Atlantic without risking German retalia- 
tion or open involvement in the war. 

While Secretary Stimson strongly favored an Iceland expedition as well 
as other vigorous lines of action in support of Britain, the Army planners 
would have much preferred to have nothing to do with expeditions either to 
Iceland or to the Azores. As late as 6 June, they were composing strong ar- 
guments against an Azores expedition, but they would have preferred an 
Azores to an Iceland operation." With the Gray plan suspended, War Plans 
chief Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow on 19 June characterized the proposed Ice- 
land expedition as "a political rather than a military move," and asked General 
Marshall to try to persuade the President to call it off. General Gerow believed 
that it was impracticable at this time for the Army to engage in any operations 
"which might involve engagements with the German forces," and he and his 
staff were therefore opposed to any movement of Army forces outside the 
Western Hemisphere.''' 

No matter what else was done, both Secretary Stimson and the Army 
General Staff also wanted to move a small security force (about 9,300 troops 
and 43 planes) to northeastern Brazil as soon as possible. On 17 June Gen- 
eral Marshall pointed out to Under Secretary Welles that, as of 10 June, 
there was not a single American naval vessel within 1,000 miles of the east- 
ern tip of Brazil, and no United States Army forces within twice that dis- 
tance.^' In an estimate submitted to General Marshall on 18 June, G-2 
expressed its belief that the German push southwestward had reached omi- 
nous proportions: ten thousand Germans were believed to be in Spain; it 
was "reliably reported" that the Germans had concentrated transports in 
southern French ports ready to move four divisions to Portugal; German 
artillerymen, equivalent in strength to two regiments, were believed to have 
moved into Spanish Morocco; and G-2 was certain that German submarines 
were being supplied from the Canaries, and probably from French West Af- 
rican ports as well.^'' If this G-2 estimate were anywhere near accurate, it 
certainly behooved the United States to take some sort of quick action to 
protect the Brazilian bulge. This was the view presented by Secretary Stim- 

" WPD draft of Memo, CofS for CNO, Jun 41 (dated in pencil, 6 Jun 41, and stamped 

"Not used") and Incls, WPD 4422-7; unsigned and undated staff report in GHQ-OPD Indigo 
"A" file. 

Gerow Diary, entry of 19 Jun 41. 
" Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 17 Jun 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 
Memo, Aag ACofS G-2 for CofS, 18 Jun 41, WPD 4516. 


son and General Marshall to the President in a bedside conference on 19 
June, and the President told them he would direct the Department of State 
to find ways and means of getting American troops into Brazil." 

The day before this conference with the President, the Secretary of War 
had received some "very upsetting news" to the eflFect that the tentative de- 
cision to reinforce the Atlantic Fleet had been reversed. Mr. Stimson drafted 
a protest to the President, stating "we are confronted with the immediate 
probability of two major moves in the Atlantic [Iceland and Brazil] without 
sufficient naval power there to support them." Continuing, he wrote, "the 
menace of Germany to South America via Dakar- Natal requires that the 
hold by American seapower upon the South Atlantic should be so strong as 
to be unchallengeable." Although Secretary Knox shared Mr. Stimson 's 
views on the question of Atlantic Fleet reinforcement, the President was im- 
pervious to the Secretaries' pleas. On the other hand, at the 19 June confer- 
ence the President asked Mr. Stimson and General Marshall whether the 
Army could immediately organize an expeditionary force of 75,000 men for 
use in several theaters— Iceland, the Azores, the Cape Verdes, or elsewhere. 
In effect the President was told that, because of legislative restrictions on 
employment of Reserve and National Guard troops outside the Western 
Hemisphere, this could not be done without completely destroying the effi- 
ciency of all Army combat units. Aside from that, the Army had neither the 
equipment nor the ammunition available to mount such an expeditionary 
force and still leave anything for the Army units remaining to defend the 
continental United States.^' In short, at the time Germany attacked the So- 
viet Union, the United States Army's offensive combat strength was still 
close to zero.'° 

Stimson Diary, entry of 19 Jun 41; Gerow Diary, entry of 19 Jun 41; Memo, CofS for WPD, 
21 Jun 41, WPD 4516. 

Draft of Ltr, SW to President, 19 Jun 41, in Stimson Diary. Instead of sending this letter, 
Mr. Stimson presented his views in person when he went with General Marshall to see the Presi- 
dent on 19 June. 

Gerow Diary, entry of 19 Jun 41. 
*° The Army Air Forces rated the General Headquarters Air Force at zero strength as of 1 July 
1941— that is, there were no trained combat air units in the continental United States available for 
employment with overseas expeditionary forces. Memo, AAF for WPD, 7 Jul 41, WPD 3774-28. 
The Air Forces was in the midst of a tremendous expansion that absorbed all of its available com- 
bat planes in training. 

In general, the Army's weakness in effective combat strength at this time was due to factors 
beyond its control. The Army's numerical strength had increased fivefold during the preceding 
year, a pace the expansion of the American munitions industry sifnply could not match. Further- 
more, a large proportion of the American munitions output was going to Great Britain. Marine 
combat forces had priority in the munitions supply that was available. General Marshall summar- 
ized the Army's predicament when he remarked, "whether we will have anything left after Britain 
and the Marines get theirs, I do not know." Notes on War Council mtg, 3 Jun 41, SW Conf 
Binder 1. 



On the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union a German submarine al- 
most precipitated open war with the United States by chasing and trying to 
attack the battleship Texas and an accompanying destroyer southeast of 
Greenland and within the war zone that the Germans had proclaimed. The 
U-203 trailed the Texas and the destroyer on the night of 19-20 June for 
about 140 miles but could not launch its torpedoes because of poor weather 
conditions and the evasive action of the American ships. After the sinking of 
the American freighter Robin Moor in the South Atlantic a month earlier, 
Hitler had forbidden further attacks on United States merchant and naval 
vessels outside the war zone. When he learned about the Texas incident on 
21 June, Hitler, in order to prevent incidents that might bring the United 
States into the war, directed the German Navy to stop all attacks on naval 
vessels in the North Atlantic war zone until after the Eastern Campaign was 
well under way.*" 

The Germans invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. The next day, 
in a letter to the President, the Secretary of War called the event "an almost 
providential occurrence." In the letter Stimson stated that he had met with 
General Marshall and his War Plans staff, and they had estimated that the 
Germans would now be thoroughly occupied in the Soviet Union for a pe- 
riod of from one to three months. While so involved, the Germans could 
not invade Great Britain, nor could they attack Iceland or prevent American 
troops from landing there. The Germans would also have to relax their "pres- 
sure on West Africa, Dakar and South America." The General Staff officers 
with whom Mr. Stimson had consulted were unanimously of the opinion 
that the United States ought to take advantage of this golden opportunity 
"to push with the utmost vigor our movements in the Atlantic theater of 
operations." Secretary Stimson interpreted this to mean the execution of the 
Iceland project, American naval reinforcement in the Battle of the Atlantic, 
and the movement of American security forces to Brazil."^ 

War Department officials, military and civilian, were undoubtedly united 
in the opinion that the United States ought to act with vigor during the 
period that Germany was heavily involved in the Soviet campaign, but the 

United States Navy Department, translation of Befehhhaber der Unterseeboote War Logs for 
period 1 January 1941 to Jl December 1943 (hereafter cited as B.d.V. War Logs), entry of 20 
Jun 41; Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, II, 1, entry of 21 Jun 41. 

Under this directive as clarified, submarine commanders were permitted to attack naval vessels 
in the war zone only when the vessels were "definitely established as enemy ships from cruisers 
on up," or when the vessels themselves were unmistakably attacking. Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, 
II, 3, entry of 10 Jul 41. 

Ltr, SW to President, 23 Jun 41, original in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL, and printed in Sher- 
wood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 303-04. 



new war outlook had not wrought any miraculous change in the Army's 
very limited means for action. A June estimate of Army capabilities, under 
preparation since late May but adjusted to take the German attack on the 
Soviet Union into account, concluded that the United States could not for 
many months do much more than conduct "a citadel defense of the Western 
Hemisphere including the line Greenland, the Atlantic bases, Natal, the 
Amazon Valley, Peru, Hawaii, and Alaska." Beyond that, it could probably 
carry out its ABC-1 commitments to England, including a "subsequent" 
complete relief of British forces in Iceland: Similarly, it could carry out a 
limited reinforcement of the Philippines. The United States probably could 
land holding forces in the Azores, but it probably could not occupy and hold 
any of the other southern Atlantic islands or any foothold on the western 
coast of Africa. In time, the United States might accumulate sufficient mili- 
tary strength to secure southern South America. In the still more distant fu- 
ture, it might be able "to take action against our main enemies in Europe." **' 
Army planners under the circumstances would have preferred to limit imme- 
diate Army action in the Atlantic to the dispatch of security forces to Brazil. 

In spite of the Army's prime interest in Brazil, the plan to send troops 
there ran into various snags that prevented any action for the time being 
other than the initiation in July of formal Brazilian- American joint staff plan- 
ning.*'' With a different point of view from that of the Army planners, As- 
sistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy urged Mr. Stimson to concentrate 
Army action toward what he termed the main strategic area of the war— the 
British Isles and their North Atlantic approaches. To gain control of the 
northern and southern flanks of these approaches, he advocated placing troops 
in both Iceland and the Azores before undertaking any Brazilian operation. 
"The focus of the infection lies to the northeast," he wrote. "With that in- 
sulated. South America presents no problem." 

Although the Army's lack of readiness made it hesitant to advocate meas- 
ures that would lead to open involvement in the war, the United States Navy 
was ready to take the risk. Two days after the Germans launched their new 
attack, Admiral Stark went to the President and urged him to approve the 
immediate assumption by the American Navy of convoy responsibilities in 
the North Atlantic. The Chief of Naval Operations recognized that this step 
would almost certainly involve the United States in the war, but he consid- 
ered "every day of delay in our getting into the war as dangerous, and that 

" This summary of the June 1941 estimate was embodied in a paper circulated at a conference 
in the Secretary of War's office on 16 September 1941. Copy in OCS file. Conferences (9-21-41). 
" SeeEEZSD below. 

Memo, ASW for SW, 24 Jun 41, SW file, War Plans. 



much more delay might be fatal to Britain's survival." Only a war psychol- 
ogy, Admiral Stark believed, would speed war production and thereby permit 
the United States to initiate decisive measures in the Atlantic. ^'^ 

President Roosevelt at first leaned toward the Navy's school of thought. 
He had no intention of dropping the Iceland project, and on 1 July, when 
the Icelandic Government agreed to the terms upon which American troops 
were to be received, the President ordered the initial Marine contingent to 
sail. On 2 July, he tentatively approved a new Navy plan for North Atlantic 
operations (Navy Western Hemisphere Defense Plan No. 3) that would 
have involved American naval escort of all sorts of shipping from the Halifax- 
Newfoundland area to the longitude of Iceland, to start as soon as American 
forces landed in Iceland. On 5 July the President told Mr. Stimson that he 
was again planning to order a second increment of the Pacific Fleet into the 
Atlantic to implement this Navy plan. But when it became clear that the 
Japanese had decided to continue their southward advance the President for 
the second time postponed naval reinforcement of the Atlantic and instead 
instructed the Navy to adopt a more modest projection of its current North 
Atlantic activities. The Navy thereupon put into effect its Western Hemis- 
phere Defense Plan No. 4, which provided specifically only for the escort of 
United States and Icelandic shipping to and from Iceland.*" 

The real impact of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on the se- 
curity of the Western Hemisphere derived not from the immediate but from 
the longer range development of the situation. Instead of a breathing space 
of one to three months duration, the United States and the rest of the New 
World were to be free henceforth from any great danger of German surface 
or air aggression in the western Atlantic. The Nazi-Soviet conflict had a 
contrary effect in the Pacific. Japanese decisions and actions from early July 
1S>41 onward showed that the Japanese also considered this conflict a "provi- 
dential occurrence," and they proceeded to take full advantage of it by push- 
ing the erection by force of a "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" with 
all speed. The United States in consequence was to be brought fully into the 
war not as a result of measures taken to combat the Nazi menace in the At- 
lantic, but by Japanese aggression in the Pacific. 

Ltr, Adm Stark to Capt Charles M. Cooke, Jr., USN, 31 Jul 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 16, 
p. 2175. 

" Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 574-75; Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 74- 
79; Kittredge MS, Ch. 19, pp. 539-52; Stimson Diary, entries of 5, 8, and 21 Jul 41. 


From Nonbelligerency to War 

When President Roosevelt ordered the marines to sail for Iceland on 1 
July 1941, neither he nor any of his advisers were in a position to predia 
the future course of American action toward the war. The United States, to 
be sure, had gone far since the preceding summer in implementing its basic 
policy of hemisphere defense, though its armed forces were still not ready 
to carry out this policy alone. The nation was rapidly becoming the "arsenal 
of democracy" forecast by the President at the end of 1940. By mid-1941 the 
national policy comprehended not only material support of the nations fight- 
ing Axis aggression, including the Soviet Union, but also preservation of the 
British Isles as the major Atlantic bastion of America's position. Britain's 
salvation depended upon securing the supply life line across the North At- 
lantic. What the United States in the months to come could and would do 
in furtherance of these basic policies depended primarily on the success or 
failure of German arms in the Soviet Union and on what Japan decided to 
do in consequence of the Nazi-Soviet conflict. Writing to Prime Minister 
Mackenzie King of Canada on 1 July, President Roosevelt observed, "if the 
Russians should fail to hold out through the Summer, there may be an in- 
tensified effort against Britain itself, and especially for control of the At- 
lantic," and added, "we may be able to help a good deal more than seems 
apparent today." ' How much more depended not only on American public 
opinion, still far from reconciled to open participation in the war, but also 
on Japan's decision. 

The President and his advisers knew only too well how crucial Japan's 
decision would be in determining American policy and action toward the 
war. Having broken the Japanese codes, they also had the means of learning 
what Japan proposed to do. The President on 1 July wrote: 

. . . the Japs are having a real drag-down and knock-out fight among themselves and have 
been for the past week— trying to decide which way they are going to jump — attack 
Russia, attack the South Seas (thus throwing in their lot definitely with Germany) or 
whether they will sit on the fence and be more friendly with us. No one knows what 
the decision will be but, as you know, it is terribly important for the control of the 

' FDR Personal Letters, II, 1179. 



Atlantic for us to help to keep peace in the Pacific. I simply have not got enough Navy 
to go round— and every little episode in the Pacific means fewer ships in the Atlantic.' 

The Japanese broke the suspense almost immediately. On 2 July at an 
Imperial Conference they decided that Japan should pursue the plan devel- 
oped in the summer and fall of 1940 for a southward advance to secure dom- 
ination of eastern and southeastern Asia. Diplomatic conversations with the 
United States were to be continued, but simultaneously preparations for 
war were to be advanced as rapidly as possible. Soviet Siberia would be at- 
tacked only if the Russians' seemed on the point of collapse. The Japanese 
planned to occupy southern Indochina immediately, and they had intended 
to present the French authorities with an ultimatum to this effect on 5 July; 
when news of this move leaked out, the Japanese postponed action, but 
only for another week.' 

Apparently fearing immediate American retaliation, the Japanese had 
ordered their merchant shipping to clear the Atlantic as soon as possible. 
The United States Army and Navy interpreted this move as possibly por- 
tending a surprise attack on American defense positions in the eastern Pa- 
cific, and on 3 July the army ordered the Panama Canal closed to Japanese 
shipping to prevent sabotage by vessels in transit."* An alert went out the 
same day to Alaska. Intercepts decoded between 5 and 7 July helped clarify 
Japanese intentions. Ambassador Nomura had been told on 2 July that his 
government proposed to advance on southern Indochina and Thailand at 
once. Though Japan intended to use "every means available ... in order to 
prevent the United States from joining the war, if need be Japan shall aa 
in accordance with the three-Power pact and shall decide when and how 
force will be employed." ' 

American policy and action toward Japan stiffened as soon as the Japa- 
nese made their next overt move. On 24 July forty thousand Japanese troops 
sailed for southern Indochinese ports to begin the construction of air and 
naval bases from which further military attacks could be made against Ma- 
laya and the East Indies. The United States responded on 26 July by freez- 
ing Japanese assets and by other orders that in effect ended American oil 
shipments to Japan— a move long advocated by exponents of a "get-tough" 
policy. Army and Navy commanders in the Pacific were again alerted to the 

^ Ltr, President to Secy Harold L. Ickes, 1 Jul 41, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 
' Far East Judgment, Ch. VII, pp. 924-28; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 625-41. 
* Gerow Diary, entries of 3, 9, and 10 Jul 41; Rad, TAG to CO PCD, 3 Jul 41, AG 800.2 

' Msg, Foreign Minister Matsuoka to Ambassador Nomura, 2 Jul 41, quoted in Hull, Memoirs, 
II, 1013. 



possibility of Japanese retaliation, and the alert message informed them that 
the Philippine Army was being called into active service. By the end of July 
the United States had decided to reverse its policy of standing on the de- 
fensive along the Alaska-Hawaii-Panama line; instead it would reinforce 
and defend the Philippines, though this defense was not to be permitted 
"to jeopardize the success of the major efforts ... in the theater of the 

Operations in the North Atlantic 

The Japanese decisions and actions of July, as previously noted, helped 
to delay the execution of more vigorous action by American naval forces 
in the North Atlantic. During June the American and British naval staffs 
had agreed on plans under which the United States would undertake the 
escort of convoys of all types of shipping from the Halifax-Newfoundland 
area to the longitude of Iceland. The Navy had prepared to carry out the 
assignment by drafting a new Western Hemisphere defense plan that would 
require transfer of more ships from the Pacific Fleet. The news from Japan 
caused the President to reverse his tentative approval of these measures.' He 
also rejected Secretary Stimson's plea for a forthright explanation of American 
purposes in Atlantic operations in his report to Congress on the Iceland 
landing. Mr. Stimson wished it made clear that the "broader and more 
powerful reason" for the Iceland operation was protection of the North 
Atlantic convoy route to Great Britain and that the United States proposed 
to do everything within its naval and air means to protect that route from 
Axis marauders. He also wanted the President to announce that, with Brazil's 
consent, the United States proposed to establish bases there to resist Nazi 
aggression toward South America.* But the President in announcing to Con- 
gress on 7 July that American forces had landed in Iceland explained the 
move as necessary to prevent German occupation and establishment of air and 
naval bases from which the Western Hemisphere could be attacked. He said 

* Gerow Diary, entry of 31 Jul 41. See also. Far East Judgment, Ch. VII, pp. 930-31; Samuel 
Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War 11, Vol. Ill, The Rising 
Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1948) (hereafter cited 
as Rising Sun in the Pacific), pp. 62-63; Louis Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, UNITED 
STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington: 1953), pp. 31ff.; Memo, G-2 for CofS, 
25 Jul 41, OPD Exec 8, Book A; WD rad (jt dispatch of CofS and CNO), 25 Jul 41, WPD 

' Stimson Diary, entries of 5 and 8 Jul 4 1 ; information obtained from Captain Kittredge, 
USN, JCS Hist Sec, in written commentary for OCMH Strategy Sec. 

' Study, unsigned and undated, title: Draft Suggestions for President's Report to Congress, SW 
file. White House. 



nothing about escort plans, or about Brazil, although both plans were still 
very much alive. 

American forces established in Iceland naturally required escort of American 
and Icelandic shipping engaged in transporting troops and supplying American 
forces and the native population. This began immediately. On 19 July, twelve 
days after the marines had landed, the Atlantic Fleet issued orders that in 
effect permitted its ships "to escort convoys of United States and Iceland 
flag shipping, including shipping of any nationality which may join United 
States or Iceland flag convoys, between United States ports and bases, and 
Iceland." Thereafter, as Professor Samuel E. Morison has observed, many ships 
of other nationalities chose to join the American convoys going to and from 
Iceland and its vicinity. Furthermore, Canadian and Free French vessels co- 
operated with the United States Navy in escorting the convoys. While the 
British and Canadians continued to have exclusive escort responsibility on 
the direct transatlantic run until two months later, the American Navy from 
19 July onward was increasingly engaged in the protection of shipping des- 
tined not only for Iceland but also for the British Isles, and it had orders 
to capture or destroy "potentially hostile vessels . . . actually within sight 
or sound contact of such shipping or of its escort." ' Though it is clear that 
the President approved issuance of these orders, his failure to announce them 
or explicitly to authorize them left American naval commanders in something 
of a quandary: they were not certain until September whether, when they 
detected or sighted a hostile vessel, they ought to fire first or await attack.'" 
German submarine commanders had more positive orders. Hitler, in em- 
phasizing on 10 July that he wanted to postpone American entry into the 
war "for another one or two months," again directed that American naval 
vessels in the war zone must not be attacked unless they attacked first and also 
that attacks on American merchant ships should be avoided." 

At the Atlantic Conference held at the United States base at Argentia, 
Newfoundland, 9-12 August, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, 
and their naval advisors discussed and settled upon the division of labor in 
Atlantic escort operations. Indeed, this was the only significant strategic or 
tactical matter settled at the Atlantic Conference, though others were dis- 
cussed. Actually, the naval plans approved there were practically the same as 
those drafted two months previously and envisaged primary American re- 
sponsibility for escort duty in the western Atlantic. The President at Argentia 

' Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 78-79- The quotations are from Atlantic Fleet Opera- 
tions Plans 5 and 6, dated 15 and 19 July 1941, as cited in Morison. 
lbid.\ Stimson Diary, entry of 21 Jul 41. 
" Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, II, 3, entry of 10 Jul 41. 



drew a line on an Atlantic map that ran generally along the 26th parallel 
from south and east of the Azores to south of Iceland and then veered north- 
eastward to longitude 10° east of Iceland; the American sphere of action 
was to be west of this line. The plans, when executed, permitted release of 
fifty British destroyers and corvettes for duty in the eastern and southern 
Atlantic. Despite the complete agreement reached at Argentia, the President 
still hesitated to make any public announcement of it until an "incident" 
occurred; furthermore, he wanted to get the system in full operation before 
it was publicly acknowledged or officially ordered.'^ 

On 4 September a German submarine fired two torpedoes at the United 
States destroyer Greer, which was en route to Iceland and about 150 miles 
southwest of it. The Greer had been pursuing and maintaining contact with 
the submarine in collaboration with an Iceland-based British plane, which 
had been attacking the submarine with depth charges. Thus began the de 
facto naval war waged between American and German craft in the North 
Atlantic during the three months preceding Pearl Harbor. The President in 
a speech on 11 September seized upon the Greer incident as the appropriate 
justification for announcing American intentions to engage all German and 
Italian naval vessels thereafter discovered in the western reaches of the At- 
lantic. Within a fortnight the United States Navy had begun to escort trans- 
atlantic convoys to midocean. On 28 September the Navy issued its Hemi- 
sphere Defense Plan No. 5 covering these extended operations and ordered 
it into effect on 8 October after Admiral King had reported his Atlantic 
Fleet in a full state of readiness to carry it out." 

Successful submarine attacks on the destroyers Kearny and Reuben James 
during October— sinking the latter with heavy loss of life— signalized the in- 
tention of the Germans to modify their policy of avoiding incidents that might 
bring the United States openly into the war. With a quick victory over the 
Russians no longer in prospect, the Nazis extended their submarine opera- 
tions into the western Atlantic as far as Newfoundland. During late October 
and early November American Navy craft and Army planes helped in an 
attack on a submarine pack that had found good hunting around New- 

Memo, Col Bundy for Gen Marshall, 16 Aug 41, OPD Exec 4, Item 10; Sherwood, Roosevelt 
and Hopkins, pp. 358, 370-71; Arnold, Global Mission, pp. 249-52; Churchill, Grand Alliance, 
pp. 441, 449; Memo of Hopkins, 13 Sep 41, abstracted in Calendar of Hopkins Papers, Book IV, 
Item 10, FDRL. 

"Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 79-80; Kittredge MS, Ch. 19, pp. 594-96; Hull, 
Memoirs, II, 1047; Msg, Prime Minister Churchill to Gen Jan Christian Smuts, 14 Sep 41, Church- 
ill, Grand Alliance, p. 517; Pers Ltrs, Adm Stark to CinC's Asiatic and Pacific Fleets, 22 and 23 
Sep 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 16, pp. 2209, 2212. 



foundland.''' On 13 November Congress voted to repeal the provisions of 
the NeutraUty Act of 1939 that prohibited the arming of American mer- 
chant ships and their entry into combat zones. As Mr. Churchill notes, this 
action, coupled with the Navy's escort operations, would have inevitably led 
to "constant fighting in the Atlantic between German and American ships." " 
By 5 December the Atlantic Fleet and the British Home Fleet had reached 
complete agreement on responsibilities and measures for dealing with Ger- 
man surface raiders in the North Atlantic."^ The Battle of the Atlantic had 
become an American battle, though nominally the nation was still at peace. 

The German Threat in the Southern Atlantic 

It appeared during the summer of 1941 that the task of securing control 
of the Atlantic could not be confined to its northern reaches. As the British, 
Canadian, and American Navies tightened their hold on the North Atlantic 
life line, German submarine activity swung southward. In June 1941 more 
than half of the British merchant shipping losses in the Atlantic occurred 
within a 1,000-mile radius of the Cape Verde Islands.''' The continuance of 
these depredations through the summer seemed to American military ob- 
servers to indicate an early renewal of the Nazi military threat to French West 
Africa and South America that had loomed so ominously in May. This threat 
was in fact very real in July 1941. Hitler and his commanders had expected 
to smash Soviet military power in a lightning summer campaign, after which 
they intended to turn their attention to the Mediterranean and Africa. It 
will be recalled that this timing had been agreed upon in March, and that 
German negotiations with Admiral Darlan in May had been intended to lay 
the groundwork for an advance to Dakar after the Russians were defeated. 
Though General Maxime Wcygand, French commander in North Africa, 
had been able in early June to persuade Marshal Petain to reject the Darlan 
protocols, the Germans fully intended to pursue their objectives of capturing 
Gibraltar and occupying bases in North and West Africa and on the eastem 
Atlantic islands as soon as they could release sufficient forces (especially air 
forces) from the Soviet front. Their main purpose would be to establish a 

'* Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 94-95; Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 382-83. 
The first Army air attack out of Newfoundland apparently occurred on 27 October. Stimson Diary, 
entry of 28 Oct 41. 

" Msg, Prime Minister Churchill to Gen Smuts, 9 Nov 41, Churchill, Grand Alliance, pp. 

''Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 81-82. 

" Msg, U.S. Military Attache, London, to G-2, 7 Jul 41, copy in WPD 4113-109. 



chain of Atlantic bases from which British and American control of the At- 
lantic could be successfully challenged."* 

Whether the Germans could launch a drive toward North and West 
Africa during lS)4l depended on two factors: first, their success in encircling 
the mass of Soviet military manpower before it could withdraw; and second, 
collaboration with France. During July, while the outcome on the Soviet 
front was still in balance, the Germans renewed their demands on Vichy 
for North African bases." About the same time the German Navy was 
urging upon the Fuehrer its views that a "final clarification of the Mediter- 
ranean problem" and military collaboration with France in order to gain con- 
trol of strategic bases were absolutely essential to "a successful continuation 
of the Battle of the Atlantic." Hitler answered that there was "absolutely 
no reason for the concern" expressed by the German Navy. He had not 
changed his mind about the importance of maintaining the submarine and 
air offensive against Britain with all vigor. Though he earnestly desired to 
avoid actions that would lead to open war with the United States while the 
Eastern Campaign was in progress, nevertheless he was determined to march 
into Spain and send panzer and infantry divisions from there into North 
Africa "as soon as the U.S.A. occupies Portuguese or Spanish Islands." ^° 

Since the first condition essential to the launching of a southwestward 
drive did not materialize, the question whether the Germans could have 
"persuaded" Vichy France to collaborate must remain unanswered. The Ger- 
mans failed to trap the main Soviet forces, and by mid-August the German 
Army began to realize that it was in for a long and exhausting battle on 
the Eastern Front.^' A month later a strategic estimate prepared by the Ger- 
man Army High Command and approved by Hitler acknowledged the neces- 
sity of recasting German military plans. Irrespective of whether Soviet forces 
succumbed during the fall or winter of 1941-42, the German Army would 
be too shattered and exhausted to permit its regrouping for a major offensive 
elsewhere until well into 1942. Even in the midst of the titanic Nazi-Soviet 
struggle, the Germans considered the defeat of Great Britain their main goal 
in the war. A successful invasion was the one sure means of defeating Britain, 
but it would be at least late summer 1942 before the operation could be 
carried out. Nor would German ground and air forces "be available for 

See |Ch. vj above. On Weygand's role, see Hull, Memoirs, II, 962-64; and Ltr, Adm Leahy 
to President, 28 Jul 41, Leahy, / Was There, p. 461. 
" Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, p. 177n. 

" Notes on Conf between Adm Raeder and Hitler, 25 Jul 41, and Annex I to these Notes, 
Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, II, 13-18. 

^' Haider Journal, VII, 36, entry of 11 Aug 41. 



decisive operations in the Mediterranean, in the Atlantic, and on the Spanish 
mainland before spring, 1942." Until then the High Command urged that 
Germany do everything it could to maintain and improve its political rela- 
tions with France and Spain and to block their collaboration with Great 
Britain and the United States. From the German military point of view, the 
greatest strategic danger in sight was an Anglo-American drive to secure sea 
and air domination of the Mediterranean and control of the North African 
littoral from the Atlantic to Suez, but Germany could not undertake any 
decisive moves to control this situation or to gain control of the Atlantic 
until the Russians were defeated." 

The United States Army's initial estimate that the Soviet Army would 
probably collapse within one to three months' time was shared by the British 
as well as by the Germans themselves. Early in July G-2 predicted that, if 
the Russians were defeated during the summer or fall of 1941, Germany would 
concentrate on consolidating its hegemony in Europe, expelling the British 
from the Mediterranean, and intensifying the Atlantic war of attrition against 
British commerce." At this same time General Sir Archibald P. Wavell, 
who had been serving as British commander in the eastern Mediterranean, 
estimated that the Nazi-Soviet struggle gave Britain a minimum of six weeks' 
grace, and that thereafter the Germans would first move through Spain to 
close the western Mediterranean and then drive against Suez. General Lord 
Gort, commanding at Gibraltar, reported increased clandestine military activ- 
ity south of the Strait all the way to Dakar. He believed that the Germans 
would advance into French Africa as soon as they could release the neces- 
sary forces from the Eastern Front, and that they might "well go to Morocco 
and West Africa through Italy, rather than Spain." At an Anglo-American 
staff meeting in London on 11 July, the British stated their opinion that the 
German plans included occupation of French North and West Africa before 
the end of 1941, but they also expressed doubts as to whether the Germans 
had sufficient resources in ships and planes to establish and maintain this 
position if American and British forces collaborated in resisting the advance." 

While American and British political and military chiefs at the Atlantic 
Conference were discussing concrete ways and means of dealing with the 
prospective German drive toward the southern Atlantic, in Washington Mr. 

" "Extract from an OKW Memorandum on the strategic situation as of late summer, 1941, 
approved by the Fuehrer," Haider Journal, VII, 94-99, entry of 13 Sep 41. 

" Memo, G-2 for WPD, 11 Jul 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 14, pp. 1336-37. 

Memos of W. Averell Harriman's Convs with Gen Wavell, 5 Jul 4l, and with Gen Gort, 
11-14 Jul 41, SW file, W. A. Harriman. 

" Kittredge MS, Ch. 18, p. 515, and Ch. 19, pp. 556-58. 



Hull was asking the War and Navy Secretaries what the United States could 
do "if the Germans march on Dakar as they are preparing to do now." It 
was a hard question to answer because, as Mr. Stimson noted, the United 
States and Britain simply did not have enough available naval strength to 
support effective military countermeasures in the southern Atlantic area.^*^ 
On 15 August Secretary Stimson, in a radio address, said, "Germany has been 
pushing into North Africa and we have reason to believe that a major ad- 
vance will be made by her into that continent." He then emphasized the 
threat of such an advance to Brazil and the Western Hemisphere." 

Brazil, as War Plans chief General Gerow explained to President Roose- 
velt on 31 August, was the southern key to the Army's scheme of hemi- 
sphere defense, and the Army planners and General Marshall wanted more 
than ever to put security forces at strategic airfields on the Brazilian bulge. 
In mid-September G-2 held that a German move into French North and 
West Africa, whatever its main purpose, would provide Germany with the 
opportunity to extend its influence in Latin America— perhaps to infiltrate 
physically— and would necessitate prompt action in the Natal area by the 
United States and in the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands by the United 
States and Great Britain.^' Not until October did the Army planners come 
around to the belief that the immediate threat to North and West Africa 
had passed. Though they still expected that the Soviet Union would be de- 
feated by the spring of 1942, until that happened they believed Germany 
could not invade England or launch any other major offensive.'" 

The German threat to the southwest had led in August to a revival of 
the joint Army-Navy expeditionary force plan for the Azores that had been 
hurriedly devolped at President Roosevelt's direction in late May and then 
suspended in early June both because of the decision to send troops to Ice- 
land and because of the unfavorable reactions of the Portuguese Govern- 
ment toward the idea." The revival of the Azores project found the Army 
planners opposing it almost as strongly as before, and for the same basic 
reasons: neither the use of the Azores nor their denial to the Axis Powers 
was essential "to the static defense of the Western Hemisphere"; and their 
occupation and defense against opposition would absorb all of the Army's 
"immediately available resources in seasoned combat troops." Nevertheless, 

Stimson Diary, entry of 12 Aug 41. 
" Quoted in Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, p. 187. 
^' Gerow Diary, entry of 31 Aug 41. 

Memo, G-2 for WPD, 18 Sep 41, WPD 4494. 
'» W p Strate gic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4494-21. 
" See |Ch. V| above. 

" WPD Draft Memo, n.d., [written between 9 and 18 Aug 41}, WPD 4422-11. 



since the President and some of his advisers were known to have a keen in- 
terest in the Azores as well as in the more distant Cape Verdes, the Army 
had to consider an Azores expedition as a continuing possibility. By early 
July, G-1 had drafted three alternate plans for military government in the 
Azores, and two months later War Plans placed the Azores at the top of 
the list of areas for which military government personnel should be trained." 
Whether these plans would have to be applied depended not so much on 
what the President or the armed services planned to do as on the still un- 
predictable outcome of the great Nazi-Soviet battle.'"* 

In mid-July the President had the Department of State dispatch a letter 
to Prime Minister Salazar of Portugal designed to dissipate the "misunder- 
standings which have regrettably arisen during recent weeks between our 
two Governments" and to pave the way for a Portuguese request for Ameri- 
can protection of the Azores and other Portuguese possessions in the event 
they were threatened by Germany. The United States would invite Brazil to 
participate in any such operation and would categorically guarantee to re- 
spect Portuguese sovereignty and to withdraw its forces as soon as the war 
was over. The President's letter had a good effect in Lisbon, and Dr. Salazar's 
response acceded somewhat left-handedly to Mr. Roosevelt's proposals. The 
Portuguese Government, it stated, planned to retreat to the Azores in case 
the Germans threatened Portugal itself, and while it would count as usual 
on British protection in accordance with its traditional alliance, if British 
forces were too busy elsewhere American assistance in the Azores and Cape 
Verdes might be accepted." 

With these exchanges in hand, the Azores project became a prime topic 
of conversation at the Atlantic Conference, along with other operations that 
might be undertaken to counteract a German move into Spain. The Presi- 
dent read Dr. Salazar's letter to Prime Minister Churchill, and they both 
agreed that it opened the way for a peaceful American occupation of the 
islands. Mr. Churchill then disclosed that the British planned to seize the 
Canary Islands about 15 September 1941, that this operation would absorb 

" Memo G-1 for CofS, 8 Jul 41, OCS 21176-10; D/F, WPD to G-1, 16 Sep 41, WPD 

'■^ "The Navy (and the Army) make much of having sufficient ships ready at all times for the 
carrying of an expedition to the Azores or the Cape Verdes or Brazil. It is my thought that no 
human being can tell when or if such an expedition will ever be ordered." Memo, President for 
Adm Emory S. Land, 1 Aug 41, FDR Personal Letters, II, 1193. 

" Memo, Under Secy Welles for President, 11 Jul 41; Ltr, President to Dr. Salazar, Prime 
Minister of Portugal, 14 Jul 41; Ltr, Welles to President Roosevelt, 31 Jul 41, All in Roosevelt 
Papers, FDRL. Ltr, W. Averell Harriman to Col William J. Donovan, 6 Aug 41, SW file, W. A. 
Harriman; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 587-89, 669ff.; Churchill, Grand Alliance, 
p. 438. 



all British forces available for action in the southern Atlantic area, and that 
he would therefore welcome American landings in the Azores and the Cape 
Verdes about the same time. The Prime Minister agreed to persuade Dr. 
Salazar to send the necessary direct invitation to the United States so that 
the Azores operation could be carried out promptly. He also promised to 
protect the operation from German interference by covering it with a large 
naval screen (which would, of course, also cover the Canaries operation) 
between the islands and the Portuguese coast. Mr. Churchill then carefully 
pointed out that a Canary operation in September might precede a German 
move into Spain, and that this operation by itself would almost inevitably 
provoke a crisis in the Iberian Penisula that would make an Azores opera- 
tion mandatory. President Roosevelt agreed to go through with the Azores 
project no matter what the circumstances requiring it. He explained that the 
United States did not have enough trained forces to send troops to the Azores 
and Cape Verdes simultaneously, so the Prime Minister agreed that the British 
would occupy the Cape Verdes initially and then turn them over to the United 

Following the Roosevelt-Churchill discussion, the American and British 
military chiefs considered the Azores and related operations in staff conversa- 
tions on 11-12 August. Neither the British nor the American Army and 
Navy chiefs seem to have been as enthusiastic or as certain about the Azores- 
Canary undertaking as the President and Prime Minister evidently were. 
Sir John Dill of the British Army doubted the necessity of occupying the 
Azores or Cape Verdes if the Canaries were held. Admiral Dudley Pound 
of the British Navy questioned the feasibility of the Canary operation if it 
were postponed beyond September and spoke as though there were a distina 
uncertainty of its being executed during that month. Both General Marshall 
and Admiral Stark appear to have felt that the question of which nation 
should occupy the Azores was still open to future decision, though General 
Marshall agreed that should an American operation be decided upon the 
Army would furnish the necessary forces. The Cape Verdes were to be con- 
sidered a British responsibility." 

Dept of State Memo of Conv between Roosevelt, Churchill, Hopkins, Welles, and Sir Alex- 
ander Cadogan (British Foreign Office), 11 Aug 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 14, pp. 1275-78; 
Msg, Prime Minister to Foreign Office, 11 Aug 41, Churchill, Grand Alliance,^. 438. 

The President's unqualified commitment to send troops to the Azores whenever the British 
chose to move against the Canaries must have sorely tempted Prime Minister Churchill, who was 
undisguisedly anxious to have the United States enter the war. This seems to have been a carefully 
calculated commitment on Mr. Roosevelt's part. 

" Memo, Col Bundy for CofS, 20 Aug 41; Memo, Comdr Forrest P. Sherman, USN, for CNO, 
18 Aug 41, recording staff convs of 11-12 Aug 41. Both in OPD Exec 4, Item 10. 



Before news of the Argentia discussions reached Washington, the War 
Plans Division sent a copy of the original joint expeditionary force plan 
for the Azores to the newly activated operational staff of General Head- 
quarters and requested that it get to work on a defense plan for an Army 
occupation force. After General Marshall's return, he directed General Head- 
quarters to speed work on an Azores relief plan, to be based on the assump- 
tion that the Navy and Marine Corps would make the landings and that 
the Army would thereafter provide a local defense force only.'^ By the time 
General Headquarters completed this plan in September the prospect of a 
peaceful occupation had faded. A new joint plan prepared and amplified dur- 
ing September artd October contemplated using the Atlantic Amphibious 
Force (1st Army and 1st Marine Divisions) in the initial landing and pro- 
vided for an Army relief force of about twenty-six thousand to defend the 
islands after their occupation. By early November the Azores operation was 
looked upon less as a defensive move than as a preliminary step to an occu- 
pation of northwestern Africa. The Azores in American hands would provide 
a base for checking Axis submarine activity against the Atlantic trade routes 
and would guard the supply lines to Morocco and the Mediterranean.'^ 

The military services were under considerable pressure in September and 
October 1941 to develop plans for the occupation— peaceful or otherwise— of 
the more distant Atlantic islands and of French West and North Africa. 
President Roosevelt in September evinced his interest in the possibilities of 
American military expeditions to the Cape Verdes and Dakar, in addition to 
the contemplated dispatch of forces to the Azores and to the Natal area of 
Brazil.'"' Although United States forces in the Cape Verdes could have helped 
to interdict Axis air operations that might be launched from the Dakar area 
against Brazil, the Army considered the islands of value primarily as bases from 
which to protect the southern Atlantic shipping lanes and to suppoa an Amer- 
ican or British operation against Dakar. The occupation of the Dakar area by 
American or British forces would have blocked the only practicable line of 
approach by Axis miltary forces to South America, but the planners believed 
that neither the Cape Verdes nor Dakar had any appreciable value as bases 
from which British or American forces could advance to North Africa or the 

" Memo, WPD for GHQ, 11 Aug 41, WPD 4422-3; Reports of 12 and 18 Aug and 9 and 
17 Sep 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 1; Entries of 18 Aug and 11 and 17 Sep 41, GHQ 314.81 
Diary; Memo GHQ for WPD, 22 Sep 4l, WPD 4422-3. 

" Reports of 18 Sep ancj 7, 10, and 14 Oct 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 1; Memo, WPD 
for CofS, 4 Oct 41; Memo, WPD for GHQ, 16 Oct 41. Last two in WPD 4422-3, Annex, Sec. 
X, Nov 41, to WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theater Studies. 

^ Report of Conf in OCS, 20 Sep 41, WPD 4594; Memo, WPD for CofS, 22 Sep 41, WPD 
4422-17; Stimson Diary, entry of 29 Sep 41. 



Mediterranean. That line of approach went through the Azores and the Ca- 
naries. By the end of October some Washington authorities— but not the 
Army planners — were considering the possibility of following this line in the 
near future and landing a large American force in Morocco.'" 

The Army had good reason to resist proposals for the early projection of 
American military power into French Africa. In the first place, if the United 
States were permitted to place small security forces on the Brazilian bulge 
none of the projected Atlantic island or African operations could be con- 
strued as essential to hemisphere defense. It would be far simpler, and less 
costly in trained manpower and in shipping, to put American troops into 
Brazil than to carry out any other southern Atlantic operation. In the sec- 
ond place, the Army did not have enough trained and equipped troops to 
do more than occupy either the Azores or the Cape Verdes— not both. Dakar 
and Morocco were quite beyond current Army capabilities. Actually, all of 
t^ie projected southern Atlantic operations (except Brazil) contemplated using 
the same force— the Atlantic Amphibious Force, with a strength of about 
30,000 men. The United States could not spare enough shipping to trans- 
port and maintain a mid- Atlantic or transatlantic force any larger than that 
before the end of 1941. Since even an unopposed landing in the Dakar area 
was believed to require at least 50,000 troops, the Army now considered that 
operation well beyond its means until the spring of 1942 at the earliest; land- 
ing 150,000 American troops in Morocco was far beyond its ken.''^ Secretary 
of War Stimson opposed the Atlantic islands and African projects both for 
the reasons advanced by the Army staff planners and for another reason more 
compelling to him. Mr. Stimson (probably with the support of General 
Marshall and certainly with that of General Arnold, the Chief of the Army 
Air Forces) wanted to concentrate on the projection of American military 
power to the northeast. He strongly opposed any moves that would get the 
Army "bogged down" in such "side issues" as the Azores and Dakar; in- 
stead, he urged Army action along what he called "the direct line of our 
strategical route towards victory," by completing the relief of British forces 
in Iceland and also by taking over the garrisoning of Northern Ireland from 
the British.'" 

With the Army in particular unwilling and unable to launch immediately 
effective transatlantic measures to counter the German threat to French North 

Annex, Sees. IX and XI, Nov 41, to WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theater 
Studies; Churchill, Grand Alliance, p. 552. 

12 Memo, WPD for SW, 18 Sep 41, WPD 4494; Memo, WPD for CofS, 14 Oct 41, WPD 
4511-12. Also references cited in footnote 41, above. 

Stimson Diary, entries of 29 Sep and 3, 6, 9, and 10 Oct 4l. 



and West Africa, the United States did what it could by diplomacy to persuade 
the French to resist German infiltration into their African possessions. In 
July President Roosevelt sent a sharp warning to General Weygand that the 
United States would do all that it could to prevent the Germans from obtain- 
ing the use of any French African ports as military, naval, or air bases. Mr. Hull 
talked to the Vichy ambassador in similar terms during September.'''' The 
United States knew that the French were reinforcing their West African de- 
fenses, but whether they were doing so to protect them against Axis or 
Anglo-American moves remained unknown. The actual German infiltration 
into French North and West Africa was comparatively slight. 

In November German pressure finally forced Marshal Petain to dismiss 
General Weygand, and a new crisis in Franco- American relations loomed 
thereafter. Ambassador Leahy recommended that if this move were followed 
by any evidences of increased Franco-German collaboration, the United 
States ought to recall him and announce its intention of dealing with France's 
New World and African possessions in the manner most advantageous to 
American defensive preparations. The Army wanted France's Western Hemi- 
sphere possessions demilitarized at once. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, the 
United States demanded that the Petain government guarantee that Wey- 
gand's policy of resisting German infiltration into French Africa would not 
be altered. Vichy supplied the guarantee on 12 December 1941." Of course, 
since late summer Soviet military stamina had provided the most realistic 
guarantee against a major German drive toward the southwest during 1941. 

Military Policy and Army Readiness, Autumn 1941 

The events of mid-1941 required the United States to reassess its posi- 
tion toward the war. Before the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, the 
nation's leaders had decided that the national security depended on the salva- 
tion of Great Britain. The fall of Britain and the disintegration of the British 
Empire would have left the United States virtually alone to face a hostile 
Old World possessed of military power far greater than America could hope 
to match for years to come. Even if Britain were saved, it was difHcult until 
the fall of 1941 to foresee how the Axis forces could be defeated no matter 
what contribution the United States made. The eight-point Atlantic Charter 
of mid-August, agreed upon and announced by the President and the Prime 
Minister, referred hopefully to "the final destruction of Nazi tyranny" and 

^ Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 181-82; Hull, Memoirs, II, 1041-42. 

Hull, Memoirs, II, 104J-45; Leahy, / Was There, p. 470; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared 
War, pp. 781-87. 



to the necessity of disarming the aggressor nations. During the month fol- 
lowing, as it became apparent that the Russians might be able to continue 
effective resistance to the German military machine, American military leaders 
for the first time could visualize with some confidence ways and means of 
achieving these goals. The very name applied to the massive estimates of 
these ways and means— the "Victory Program"— reflected that confidence. 
The Victory Program was not a plan for getting the United States into all- 
out war; rather, it was an over-all estimate of the current war situation, and 
on the basis of that estimate a prediction of what the United States would 
have to do to achieve victory if the nation chose to join fully in the struggle 
against the Axis.''^ 

As a backdrop for the Victory Program, and for other military estimates 
and plans prepared during the fall of 1941, the military planners had to de- 
lineate their conceptions of current national and military policies. They 
named hemisphere defense as the first and basic policy. The Joint Board's 
estimate of 11 September defined this policy as the "preservation of the terri- 
torial, economic and ideological integrity of the United States and of the 
remainder of the Western Hemisphere." The War Department Strategic 
Estimate of October used somewhat stronger language: "Resist wherever 
necessary and with all available resources the economic, political, and mili- 
tary penetration of the Axis and Associated Powers in the Western Hemi- 
sphere. Enforce the Monroe Doctrine."''* The other major policies, as the 
military planners understood them, were: to maintain the security of the 
British Isles and the integrity of the British Empire; to uphold the American 
doctrine of freedom of the seas, in particular by insuring delivery of muni- 
tions and other supplies to Great Britain and the Soviet Union; within 
American means and the abilities of the recipient states, to give material 
assistance to all nations and peoples fighting the Axis Powers; to contribute 
in every possible way to the defeat of Germany, short of declared war; to 
keep Germany engaged in the Soviet Union for as long a time and at as 
costly a rate to Germany as possible; and to resist Japanese expansion in the 
western Pacific by means short of war, but to avoid war with Japan until the 

The Joint Board, Army, separate Army Ait, and Navy estimates were presented to the Presi- 
dent en bloc on 25 September 1941, though some portions had been transmitted to him before 
then. On the Victory Program, see Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, Ch. XI; Matlo£F and 
Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 58-62; and Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and 
Strategy, 1940-43, Ch. V. 

Study, 11 Sep 41, title: JB Estimate of U.S. Over-all Production Requirements, Sec. II, par. 
5, in Kittredge MS, Ch. 19, App. C. The Stark memo of November 1940 had used an almost 
identical phrase. 

WPD 4494-21. 



European situation had been "clarified or liquidated." Finally, the Joint 
Board's estimate set forth a longer range national objective: the "eventual 
establishment in Europe and Asia of a balance of power which will most 
nearly ensure political stability in those regions and the future security of the 
United States; and, so far as practicable, the establishment of regimes favor- 
able to economic and individual liberty.'"" 

Pursuing these policies, the United States by the fall of 1941 had become 
a major though still limited participant in the war. When and whether it 
could or would do more of its own volition depended on several factors: the 
American estimate of the capabilities of the other major military powers; the 
military readiness (or better, current unreadiness) of the United States itself; 
the will of the American people, veering in their opinions toward support of 
all-out participation but still reluctant to take the final plunge; and the pur- 
pose of their leaders, particularly of President Roosevelt, who also was 
reluctant to accept the implications of all-out participation. 

General Marshall and Admiral Stark in their joint estimate of 11 Septem- 
ber made it clear that there was not much hope of defeating Hitler unless 
the United States threw its full military weight into the balance. They were 
still not certain that existing American policies and actions would insure 
Britain's survival. The service chiefs and their advisers thought it unlikely 
that Soviet forces could hold Germany in check beyond early 1S)42. If Britain 
fell thereafter, the United States at best could look forward only to a period 
of armed "peace" with European and Asiatic conquerors, a peace that would 
almost inevitably end in war under less favorable circumstances than those 
subsisting. The Chief of Staff and Chief of Naval Operations therefore 
recommended all-out preparations for a large American war-effort. With such 
preparations made, the nation could hope to wage war successfully either in 
the Old World as an associate of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China 
or, in the event of their defeat, in the New World in collaboration with 
Canada and the Latin American nations. The Army believed that the first 
course would require that large American ground forces eventually come to 
grips with the German armies on the continent of Europe.'" 

The United States Army in the fall of 1S)41 was still very far from being 
ready to undertake a transatlantic offensive, and its current policies were not 
calculated to prepare it for action of that sort. The Army, after a year of 

^' These points have been summarized from the following documents: JB Estimate, 11 Sep 41, 
and WD Strategic Estimate, Oa 41, cited in preceding two footnotes; JB }25, ser 728, 18 Oa 41; 
Memo, WPD for SW, 20 Oct 41, OCS 21090-51; and Annex, Sec III, Nov 41, to WD Strategic 
Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theate r Studies. 

'"JB Estimate, 11 Sep 41, cited in [footnote 47] above. 



rapid growth, had attained a numerical strength of l,A^^,%^ on 30 June 1941. 
This total represented an approximate achievement of the goal set in the 
summer and fall of 1940 for an Army sufficiently strong to defend the hemi- 
sphere against all eventualities. Between July and December 1941 the Army's 
rate of growth slowed, and it was calculated to have a strength of 1,643,477 
on 7 December 194 1.'^ After June, the Army concentrated not on expansion 
but on the improvement of its existing units. Between August and November 
1941 its four field armies engaged in maneuvers that not only improved their 
combat readiness but also disclosed faults needing correction. A fortnight 
after Pearl Harbor General Headquarters rated half of thirty-four divisions 
then in the United States as ready for combat.'^ This was true only in a 
limited sense: most divisions lacked their full complements of equipment, 
most of them needed more combined arms training, and the Army did not 
have the supporting air and ground units necessary to weld them into effec- 
tive corps and armies ready for offensive action. As of 1 October 1941, using 
a stricter measurement, the General Staff rated only one division, five anti- 
aircraft regiments, and two artillery brigades as ready for offensive action. On 
the same date, the Air Forces had only two bombardment squadrons and 
three pursuit groups ready. The staff planners anticipated that by the end of 
the year about double this number of ground and air units would be fully 
prepared for task force use, and by April 1942 the Army hoped to have ready 
two complete corps (of three divisions each), with proper ground and air 

Legislative restrictions. Army plans for releasing selective service and 
Reserve personnel, and the shortage of shipping would in any event have 
prevented the deployment overseas of a large Army force in 1941. Congress 
extended the Selective Service and Training Act in August by the narrowest 
of margins and continued in effect the ban on sending selectees outside the 
Western Hemisphere. Most Army combat units had a large proportion of 
selectees within their ranks and therefore could not have been sent outside 
the hemisphere without severe disruption before their departure. The Army's 
own plans in the late summer of 1941 called for release of the older selectees 
and replacement of all selective service and National Guard enlisted men 
after eighteen or twenty months' service. Indeed, the Army was planning to 
retire all National Guard units from federal service, though it hoped to recruit 

" The 30 June 1941 figure is from Annual Riport of the Secretary of W^ar, 1941; the 7 Decem- 
ber 194 1 figure, from table compiled by Returns Sec Misc Div AGO, copy in GHQ Secret Papers 
Binder 1. Neither figure includes Army nurses, who numbered about 6,800 on 7 December 1941. 
Greenfield, Palmer, and Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, pp. 43-46, 51. 

" WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, Sec. VI, WPD 4494-21. 



by enlistment as many trained men as possible from their ranks. Army per- 
sonnel plans in September contemplated only about a 10 percent increase in 
future ground force strength. As late as November General Marshall and his 
advisers assumed in their planning that no more than sixteen divisions would 
be made ready for overseas employment so long as the nation remained at 
least technically at peace.''' As for shipping, there was hardly enough avail- 
able during the fall of 1941 to move a task force of even one reinforced divi- 
sion, though the War Department hoped that there would be enough by 
the end of the year to move and maintain a force of fifty thousand men and 
that thereafter new tonnage would become available to move and supply 
sixty-eight thousand additional men per month." 

President Roosevelt called upon General Marshall in September to 
defend the current and planned strength of the Army. The President was 
looking for ways and means of allotting more combat equipment to Soviet 
forces, and one method suggested had been to reduce American combat 
ground forces and Army overseas garrisons in order to cut their needs for 
equipment. On 22 September General Marshall, Secretary of War Stimson, 
and the President went over, item by item, the Army's existing and projected 
overseas garrison strengths and its planned strength for task forces, air forces, 
field armies, and continental defense and housekeeping purposes. The net 
result was Mr. Roosevelt's approval of the Army's current strength plans and 
the Chief of Staffs conclusion that the President had no real intention of 
seeking a reduction of the Army.'"' Conversely, until December there was 
certainly no initiative either from the President or from the General Staff to 
increase the Army much beyond its existing strength. General Headquarters 
in October proposed a scheme for Army expansion and for multiplying the 
number of trained divisions; but, as a War Department G-3 (Operations 
and Training Division) representative commented on 5 November, this plan 
would have required "a reorientation of the national objective from Hemi- 
sphere Defense to an all-out 'beat Hitler' effort." " Nothing came of this 
proposal until after 7 December 1941— a lack of action that led Lt. Gen. 

Memo, G-3 for SGS, 9 Sep 41, OCS 18251-63; Report of Brig Gen Hatry J, Malony, 18 
Oct 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 1; Notes, 5 Nov 41, title: Conference on Demobilization 
of the National Guard and Increase in Strength of Army, OPD Exec 4, Item 6. 

" Annex, Sec. II, Nov 41, to WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theater Studies. 
Notes on Conf in OCS, 20 Sep 41; Memo, CofS for Col Robert W. Crawford, WPD, 22 
Sep 41; Memo, CofS for President, 22 Sep 41, and revised version, 21 Oct 41. All in WPD 4594. 
Stimson Diary, entry of 22 Sep 41. The original of the 22 September memorandum, bearing the 
President's annotations, is in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL, and a copy in this form is in Pearl Harixtr 
Attack, Pt. 15, pp. 1636-38. Of the various copies in Army files, only that in OCS 21176-18 is 

" Notes on Conf, 5 Nov 41, OPD Exec 4, Item 6. 



Lesley J. McNiir of General Headquarters to comment with some asperity 
the day before: "I do not profess to understand the precise military objective 
of our Army, but assume as obvious that it must be more than passive hemi- 
spherical defense." He then went on to urge that the United States begin 
"the mass production of trained divisions" so that it could exercise "a de- 
cisive and perhaps dominant influence on the outcome of the war." 

The Army managed during 1941 to build up the Alaskan, Hawaiian, 
Panama Canal, and Puerto Rican garrisons to their authorized peace strengths 
in men, though not in equipment. Army plans developed in May and June 
for reduction of the authorized war strengths of these garrisons under the 
Rainbow 5 plan came to naught; though ground strengths were reduced, 
corresponding increases in projected air garrisons virtually restored the cuts 
ordered in the summer of 1941. Iceland and the newer hemisphere defense 
garrisons along the Atlantic front remained well below their authorized peace 
strengths. As of mid-November it would have required the deployment of 
two hundred thousand additional troops (or as many again as were then 
stationed overseas) to bring the Army's outlying garrisons up to the war 
strengths then authorized under current Rainbow 5 plans. " 

Whatever the policies recommended by the service chiefs, therefore, the 
Army's current means and state of readiness gave it little choice but to carry 
out the garrisoning of existing overseas bases and prepare itself for com- 
paratively small overseas expeditionary efforts of an essentially defensive 
nature. This was the conclusion of the Army's October estimate: "Regardless 
of the course we pursue, our present forces are barely sufficient to defend 
our military bases and outlying possessions. If the Axis Powers were in a 
position to attempt a major military operation against the Western Hemi- 
sphere, our current military forces would be wholly inadequate. Obviously 
we are not now prepared to undertake major military operations in far-flung 
theaters." A War Plans section chief developed this same argument in 
more detail. Noting that the Victory Program visualized a great offensive, 
he commented: 

Successful offensives are not initiated until ready. . . . The associated powers have been 
forced on the defensive. A defensive strategy should be pursued until victory forces are 
available. . . . The present strategic situation is such that the United States should adopt 

Memo, CofS GHQ for G-3, 6 Dec 41, GHQ 320.2 Strength of the Army Binder 2. 

" On the planned reduction in garrison strength, see: Memo, WPD for CofS, 28 May 41, 
WPD 4 1 7 5- 1 8 ; and Ltr, CofS to CNO, 2 7 Jun 4 1 , WPD 4 1 7 5-2 2 . The originally projected Rain- 
bow 5 strengths are given in charts inclosed in Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 May 41, WPD 3493-11; 
the November 1941 current and authorized peace and war strengths, in Tab A to Memo, G-3 for 
CofS, 19 Nov 41, AG 381 (11-19-41). 

■so WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4494-21. 



as an immediate objective the formation of forces necessary for hemisphere defense after 
an Axis victory in Europe. While forming such forces every reasonable effort should be 
made to continue Russia, Great Britain, and China in the war. When it appears that these 
friendly forces can continue no longer greater emphasis must be placed on building hemi- 
sphere defense forces. Such forces as are necessary for hemisphere defense must not be 
sent to a distant theater until victory is assured. Expansion beyond hemisphere defense 
forces provides the forces necessary for the offensive designed to bring about victory. 

Of the sixteen divisions that the war planners in November 1941 wanted 
ready for emergency use overseas as soon as possible, one was earmarked for 
Iceland, two for garrison duty in the British Isles, and three for a strategic 
reserve; the remaining ren were designated for expeditionary movements 
that might have to be undertaken to the east and west coasts of South 
America, to the Atlantic islands, and to French West Africa.''' This was in 
accordance with the revised War Plans' estimate of the same month, which 
concluded: "While waiting for the time when our troops, shipping and main- 
tenance supplies will have reached a level to permit large scale operations in 
overseas theaters, there are several preliminary operations which may be 
undertaken which will strengthen our position in the Western Hemisphere 
and prepare the way for further action in Europe or Africa when the situa- 
tion warrants." These "preliminary operations" were itemized as the com- 
pletion of the Iceland occupation, the defense of bases in northeastern Brazil, 
the occupation of Dakar, and the protective occupation of the Azores, the 
Cape Verdes, and the Canaries. If its operations had been guided by its 
own judgment only, the Army presumably would have carried out a much 
more extensive deployment for hemisphere defense, and in a generally differ- 
ent direction, than actually occurred. 

The Approach to War 

President Roosevelt in a Labor Day address delivered on 1 September 
1941 expressed his determination and bespoke that of the American people 
"to do everything in their power to crush Hitler and his Nazi forces." Com- 
menting editorially the following day, the New York Times observed that 
the nation now had taken a position from which it could not retreat and 
that would also inevitably force it into direct participation in the war if its 
current policies proved insufficient to beat Hitler.'^'* The armed services in 

Memo, Col Donald Wilson, Chief Jt Requirements Sec WPD, for Col Thomas T. Handy, 
WPD, 7 Oct 41, WPD 4494-21. 

WPD Tabulation, title: Minimum Requirements, Nov 41, OPD Exec 4, Item 7. 
" Annex, Sec. IV, Nov 14, to WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theater Studies. 
'"^ FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1941, pp. 365-69; Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 369. 



their September Victory Program estimates were united in the opinion that 
Germany could not be defeated under existing American policies and meas- 
ures. If the United States wanted to beat Hitler, it would have to become 
a direct participant in the war as soon as possible. In default of such partici- 
pation, Secretary of War Stimson advised the President, not only could 
Britain and its associates not hope to win but also they could not expect to 
survive indefinitely "no matter what industrial effort is put forth by us." ^' 

When Mr. Stimson personally presented his own and the other service 
recommendations to the President on 25 September, Mr. Roosevelt entered 
into a frank discussion of "what would happen if and when we got 
into war." The President agreed that a recognized state of war would greatly 
stimulate the national defense effort. But he also expressed his dislike of 
the implications of all-out war— that is, of the ultimate necessity of Amer- 
ican forces invading and crushing Germany.** Apparently, the President still 
preferred to wait for events to shape the American position toward the war. 
Writing to Prime Minister Mackenzie King two days later, he remarked: "I 
have to watch this Congress and public opinion like a hawk and actual 
events on the ocean, together with my constant reiteration of freedom of the 
seas, are increasing our armed help all the time." '^^ The President knew 
that neither Congress nor the American people were ready for a declaration 
of war. When Mr. Churchill had asked for such a declaration at Argentia in 
August, the President (as the Prime Minister remembered it) had answered: 
"I may never declare war; I may make war. If I were to ask Congress to 
declare war, they might argue about it for three months." The President 
in a sense "made" war in the fall of 1S>41 by indorsing actions that put the 
United States Navy and merchant marine into the Battle of the Atlantic. 
There can be no question about Mr. Roosevelt's determination to use every 
means he conceived to be practicable to strike at Hitler, but as late as mid- 
October it seemed to Mr. Stimson that the President was being unduly 
influenced by people who thought other nations could win the war with 
American weapons.^' 

There seems to have been a nice correspondence during the fall of 1S>41 
between the President's position and that of the American people at large. 
The President's own popularity was near its prewar peak, and an even larger 
proportion of those questioned in public opinion polls expressed approval 

" Ltr, SW to President, 23 Sep 41, SW file, 1848a. 
'''' Stimson Diary, entry of 23 Sep 4l. 
" FDR Personal Letters, II, 1216. 

Msg, Prime Minister to Gen Smuts, 9 Nov 41, Churchill, Grand Alliance, pp. 593-94. 
^' Stimson Diary, entry of 15 Oct 4l. 



of his foreign policy, particularly of his policy toward Germany. To judge 
by the polls, the American public really feared Hitler and German militar- 
ism. A poll in August showed that a large majority of Americans believed 
that Hitler would not be satisfied short of world conquest, and in November 
another disclosed that more than three fourths of those questioned thought 
any Hitler "peace" in Europe would be highly inimical to the United States. 
The extension of American naval operations in the Atlantic, the "shoot on 
sight" orders to the American Navy, the arming of American merchant ships 
and their entry into combat zones— all of these were approved in polls by 
margins of two-to-one or better. One poll conducted in November showed 
that nearly four fifths of those questioned approved in general of the gov- 
ernment's conduct toward the European war, and almost as large a majority 
answered in the affirmative when asked whether the United States ought to 
do everything it could to defeat Germany, even if that meant eventually get- 
ting into the war. The polls also showed that most people expected the 
United States to get into the war eventually. Despite these sentiments, too 
manifest to be doubted on grounds of polling inaccuracies, the American 
people in October were still strongly opposed to an immediate declaration 
of war against either Germany or Japan.^" 

Two developments in October helped to tip the scales toward an earlier 
outright participation in the war. One was the real opening of the North 
Atlantic "shooting" war with German submarine attacks on destroyers 
Kearny and Reuben James. In between these attacks, the President delivered a 
Navy Day address that bristled. Judge Samuel I. Rosenman, then speech 
drafter extraordinary and subsequently compiler of the President's papers, 
has stated that, by the time of the 27 October address. President Roosevelt 
had become convinced American entry into the war was "almost unavoid- 
able" and "nearly inevitable." ^' The other October event was the installation 
of a new Cabinet in Tokyo bent on war unless the United States backed down. 
"Matters are crystallizing on both sides of us now," recorded Mr. Stimson on 
5 November. Two days later Admiral Stark said substantially the same thing 
when he wrote: "Events are moving rapidly toward a real showdown, both 
in the Atlantic and in the Pacific." " 

Neither the Army nor the Navy wanted a showdown in the Pacific, at 
least not until the Army's program for reinforcing the Philippines had been 

Statements based on results of polls published in Hadley Cantril, ed., and Mildred Strunlc, 
comp.. Public Opinion, 193^1946 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951). 
" FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1941, pp. 444-45. 
Stinrison Diary, entry of 5 Nov 41; Ltr, Adm Stark to Adm Thomas C. Hart, 7 Nov 41, Pearl 
Harbor Attack, Pt. 16, p. 2456. 



completed. That would not be until spring, 1942. The Navy had carefully 
refrained from applying shooting orders in Pacific waters, except against Ger- 
man and Italian naval vessels in the southeast Pacific, in order to avoid any 
incident with Japan, and in general the armed services were ready to go to 
considerable lengths to avert or at least postpone hostilities with Japan. 
Admiral Stark, to be sure, thought a declaration of war against Germany so 
necessary that he advocated it even if hostilities with Japan must in conse- 
quence be accepted." Nevertheless, he joined General Marshall in advising 
the President on 5 November that war with Japan ought to be avoided un- 
less Japan attacked United States, British, or Dutch territory, or invaded the 
Kra Peninsula with intent to march on Singapore. The United States Pacific 
Fleet was not strong enough to challenge the Japanese Navy, and Army air- 
power in the Philippines would not be strong enough to provide an alternate 
deterrent until March 1942.^" Acting presumably on the basis of this advice, 
the President and his Cabinet on 7 November unanimously agreed that the 
American people would back belligerent action by the United States to check 
Japanese aggression against the territories that the service chiefs felt it essen- 
tial to defend." 

Reduced to simpler terms, the situation in November 1941 was approxi- 
mately this: In the Atlantic, the United States Government and the American 
people wanted to help beat Hitler because they viewed Hitler as the prime 
menace to the security and well-being of the United States. They were willing 
to engage in an ever larger war effort in order to defeat Germany. A Novem- 
ber poll indicated the readiness of a substantial majority of the American 
people to dispatch American naval and air power to "any place where it could 
best help to defeat Hitler," and a large minority approved sending Army 
ground forces as well.'* But for the time being Hitler did not want a recog- 
nized state of war with the United States. Admiral Stark had observed in 
October that Hitler had "every excuse in the world to declare war on us now, 
if he were of a mind to. . . . When he is ready, he will strike, and not be- 
fore." " In an interview, the German charge d'affaires expressed doubts that 
Germany would break its diplomatic relations with the United States, though 
he recognized the possibility that his government might eventually "tire of 

" Pers Ltr, Adm Stark to Adm Husband E. Kimmel, 23 Sep 41, Peari Harbor Attack, Pt. 16, 
p. 2212; Memo, Adm Stark for Secy State Hull, 8 Oct 41, quoted in Sherwood, Roosevelt and 
Hopkins, p. 380. 

Jt Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 5 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 16, pp. 2222-23. 
" Stimson Diary, entry of 7 Nov 41. 

Cantril and Strunk, Puhitc Opinion. 1933-46. p. 977. 
" Memo, Adm Stark for Secy Hull, 8 Oct 41, Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 380. 



the undeclared war." Hitler himself had begun to realize that he might not 
be able after all to overwhelm his existing antagonists, and he certainly did 
not relish the prospect of having to cope with another and potentially greater 
one.'* In the Pacific, the United States wanted to avoid war with Japan un- 
less Japan attacked American territory or vital areas in and around the East 
Indies. But Japan was ready to strike at the United States if that were neces- 
sary to stop American intervention in the Far East. The Japanese were 
determined to secure a free hand in China and to dominate the very areas 
that the United States considered it vital to try to defend. 

At an Imperial Conference on 6 September, the Japanese had decided that 
an advance toward the south should be launched before the end of October 
if a final round of negotiations with the United States and Great Britain 
proved fruitless— a decision and deadline prompted by the American oil 
embargo of July. The Japanese militarists had to get oil soon or give up, and 
they had no intention of giving up. Naval training for the attack on the 
Pacific Fleet in Hawaii began in September, and during the month the Japa- 
nese completed the "war gaming" of their plans and intensified the 
training of their land, sea, and air forces for the descent upon the Philippines, 
southeast Asia, and Indonesia. There were still strong voices in Japan against 
the course of forceful aggression charted by the Army and Navy chiefs — suf- 
ficiently strong to cause a temporary impasse in October that produced a 
cabinet crisis and postponed the deadline for action by six weeks.'' 

The United States in the meantime was beginning to execute its new policy 
of Philippine reinforcement. Heavy bombardment planes — modern B-17's — 
were to provide the backbone of this reinforcement. The planners believed 
that if at least two groups (or 136) of these planes could be stationed in the 
Philippines, they would provide a positive and effective deterrent to Japanese 
southward expansion.*" The strategic concept for their employment envisioned 
use of Soviet and British as well as of Philippine bases. With only nine of 
the bombers on hand in the Philippines, and other reinforcements just begin- 
ning to move across the Pacific, an October War Plans' study concluded: 

Consideration of Japanese forces and her capabilities, leads to the conclusion that the 
air and ground units now available or scheduled for dispatch to the Philippine Islands in 

Ltr, Co-ordinator of Information to President, 13 Nov 4l, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 20, p. 
4471; Haider Journal, VII, 170-71, entry of 19 Nov 41. 

Far East Judgment, pp. 92J-57; Morison, Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 64-79; Robert E. 
Ward, "The Inside Story of the Pearl Harbor Plan," in United States Naval Institute Proceedings, 
LXXII (December 1951), pp. 1271-8J. 

«» Ltrs, SW to President, 22 Sep and 21 Oct 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 20, pp. 4430-31, 
AAA2-AA. Originals in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. For the details of this reinforcement, see Morton, 
Fall of the Philippines, Ch. III. 



the immediate future have changed the entire picture in the Asiatic Area. The action 
taken by the War Department may well be the determining factor in Japan's eventual 
decision and, consequently, have a vital bearing on the course of the war as a whole.*' 

The strategic estimate of the same month doubted the likelihood of major 
Japanese aggression in the near future because of the heavy involvement of 
Japanese forces in China. Such aggression "would become feasible only with 
a radical depletion of the Russian Far East forces and the almost complete 
involvement of U.S. forces in the European theater." When the Konoye 
Cabinet fell in mid-October, the President and his principal military advisers 
took serious note of the worsening of the situation, and the Navy alerted its 
fleet commanders to the possibility of hostilities. The Army's Intelligence 
and War Plans Divisions disagreed with the Navy and informed Army Pacific 
commanders that while Japanese- American relations remained tense no abrupt 
change in Japanese foreign policy appeared imminent.*' 

The policy of the new Tojo Cabinet was in fact precisely the same as its 
predecessor's. At an Imperial Conference on 5 November the Japanese decided 
that unless the United States and Great Britain accepted Japan's demands by 
25 November, Japan would go to war.^'' While this new and final ultima- 
tum was en route, President Roosevelt apparently still hoped for a peaceful 
settlement with Japan, or, that failing, for the opportunity to continue his 
current policy of "stalling and holding ofP' Japan; but he realized also that 
the Japanese situation might "blow up in the very near future." 

The events that followed the arrival in Washington on 17 November of 
the new Japanese envoy, Saburo Kurusu, have been recounted in detail else- 
where in this series, in many other narratives, and in the massive published 
record of the Pearl Harbor investigations.^* It is sufficient to record here that 
by the deadline date, 25 November, American civilian and military leaders 
had tentatively agreed among themselves on the terms of a modus vivendi to 
be proffered the Japanese envoys. When consulted, the Chinese expressed 

8' WPD study, 8 Oct 41, sub: Strategic Concept of the Philippine Islands, WPD 4175-18, Sec. 
2. Tenses as in the original. A copy of the study went to General Douglas MacAnhur by Memo, 
13 Oct 41, describing it as "an indication of present War Department thought on this subject." 

8^ WD Strategic Estimate, Oa 41, Sec. II, WPD 4494-21. 

Stimson Diary, entry of 16 Oct 41; Rad, CNO to Fleet Commanders, 16 Oa 41, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, Pt. 14, p. 1 327; Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Oct 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 14, p. 1389. 

«" Far East judgment, pp. 962-63. 

Memo, Harold Balfour (British Under Secy State for Air) for Harry Hopkins, 10 Nov 41, 
recording Balfour's conversation with the President the preceding day, Sherwood, Roosevelt and 
Hopkins, pp. 420-21. 

Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, Ch. XV. Among the best of the more detailed 
narratives ate: Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, Chs. XXVI-XXVIII; Walter Millis, This Is 
Pearl! The United States and Japan — 1941 (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1947); 
and Feis, Koad to Pearl Harbor. 



violent opposition to the terms, and the British were reluctant to accept them. 
It is very doubtful that Japan would have accepted them either, even as a 
basis for further negotiation; but Japan was given no choice in the matter, 
since the President and Secretary of State decided not to present the modus 
Vivendi to the Japanese envoys. The statement of American principles that 
they received instead was rejected by Tokyo and the decision for war reaf- 
firmed. The die had been cast. 

The President and his principal advisers were well aware by late Novem- 
ber that the Japanese might strike almost at once and without warning. The 
service chiefs expected the first Japanese moves to be made against Thailand 
and the Burma Road, though they considered an attack on the Philippines a 
distinct possibility.^^ No one in authority in Washington gave more than a 
passing thought to Pearl Harbor and the fleet. An Army intelligence esti- 
mate being prepared at the end of November stated that Japan was "com- 
pletely extended militarily and economically," with sixty of its seventy-one 
divisions tied down on the Asiatic mainland; this being the case, Japan was 
"momentarily unable to concentrate anywhere a military striking force suffi- 
cient to ensure victory" in any new major offensive. Germany, G-2 contended, 
would for the next four months "remain the only power capable of launching 
large scale strategic offensives," though it was unlikely to do so during this 
period.*' As for the American people, while they did not want to go to war 
with Japan, they were certain that if such a war came the United States would 
win it; and polls on the very eve of Pearl Harbor disclosed that a substantial 
majority believed a war with Japan would be easy and, by a three-to-one 
margin, that it would be short.'' 

Neither the military nor the public estimates of Japan's capabilities took 
into account the crippling of the Pacific Fleet on 7 December 1941. What 
might have followed had that not happened can only be conjectured. Never- 
theless, initial fleet and air losses in Hawaii and the Philippines, however 
tragic in themselves, assured a united and all-out war effort by the United 
States Government and people against the aggressor nations. In itself this 
was the best guarantee of final victory. 

Jt Memo, CofS and CNO fot President. 27 Nov 41, OPD Exec 8. Book A. 

Preliminary draft of G-2 Memo, sub: Brief Periodic Estimate of Situation, December 1, 
1941-Maich Jl, 1942, received in General Headquarters for comment on 28 November 1941, 
GHQ J81, Sec. 2; revised estimate, transmitted by Memo, G-2 for CofS, 5 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, Pt. 14, pp. 1373-84. 

«'Cantril and Strunk, Public Opinion, 1935-46, pp. 1097, 1173, 1187. 


The Shift Toward the Offensive 

The Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December. As 
soon as news of the attack reached Washington, the Army and Navy put 
the Rainbow 5 war plan into effect against Japan. On 8 December G)ngress 
declared war on Japan, and on the same day the Army and Navy directed 
subordinate commanders to prepare to carry out Rainbow 5 tasks against 
Germany and Italy as well, since there were indications that the European 
Axis partners were about to declare war on the United States. Germany and 
Italy finally made their declarations of war on the United States on 1 1 De- 
cember, and Congress responded the same day with a unanimous vote for 
war against them. Formal invocation of Rainbow 5 in the Atlantic area 

Thus by 1 1 December the United States was fully in the war, and for its 
own national security and salvation the nation was in the war to win. Con- 
gress quickly removed all restrictions on foreign service, and the Army imme- 
diately abandoned its plans for releasing the National Guard, other Reserv- 
ists, and selectees. The Victory Program estimates of September had charted 
the hard course ahead— an all-out mobilization of manpower and material 
resources. From the beginning the armed services were determined to strike 
at the enemies' main forces overseas as soon as possible and to carry out the 
basic Rainbow 5 principle of beating Germany first. How soon the nation 
could concentrate on the execution of these fundamental military objectives 
was not clearly seen in the days immediately following the Pearl Harbor at- 
tack and the almost simultaneous Japanese strikes against the Philippines 
and southeast Asia. 

The Reaction to Pearl Harbor 

The Japanese in one stroke had upset the balance of naval power in the 
Pacific, a balance that had hitherto assured the relative invulnerability of the 
American position in the eastern Pacific. Relying on the defensive superiority 
of the United States Fleet and the seeming impregnability of Oahu, its mid- 
Pacific base, the administration since 1939 had encouraged the location and 



expansion of major military aircraft factories on the Pacific coast. Now the 
aircraft factories, and key naval installations more vital than ever in view of 
the exposed position of Oahu, were open to the threat of Japanese carrier 
attacks. To the southward, little had been done before 7 December to protea 
the Panama Canal against a naval air attack launched from the Pacific. The 
Japanese had used six carriers in their strike against Oahu, and for the mo- 
ment it appeared perfectly feasible for them to make further use of carriers 
in strikes against the exposed Pacific front of the continent. 

The imbalance in Pacific naval power threatened briefly to alter the fun- 
damental American strategy of supplying munitions to the nations fighting 
Hitler. There was talk on 8 December of enacting legislation that would 
divert all lend-lease appropriations to United States forces. The next day Mr. 
Stimson pointed out to the President "that our ability hitherto to fulfill the 
Lend-Lease program had depended upon our ability to rely upon the former 
defense of the west coast by the Navy and Hawaii." Now, he added, the 
United States must build its continental defenses on a new basis.' 

The Army had enough trained manpower to deal with the immediate 
situation, but not enough equipment. Therefore, all lend-lease and foreign 
contract shipments of munitions were stopped on 7 December 1941, and for 
a month thereafter the United States released to its military associates only 
those items for which its own armed services had no immediate need.^ On or 
after 7 December, for example, the United States seized 479 military aircraft 
and 798 airplane engines belonging to the British Government and later paid 
$80,000,000 for them.' By such expedients, and by temporarily diverting air- 
craft from training, the Army built a 54-group combat air force almost within 
the month of December. Similarly, many Army ground force units received 
unexpected allotments of equipment that made them ready at least for defen- 
sive deployment. During December a great many of the newly equipped 
Army ground and air units were rushed to the defense of the Pacific coast. 
By the end of December the Navy had also redressed its defensive strength 
in the eastern Pacific, primarily by shifting three battleships and one carrier— 
the same vessels moved to the Atlantic the preceding May — from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific Fleet. These measures and the clarification of the military out- 
look permitted resumption of foreign aid shipments in early January 1942. 

The military outlook had appeared much grimmer in the second week of 
December when the War Plans Division prepared its first strategic estimate 
of the war situation. This estimate considered that Japan had already gained 

' Notes on Conf in OCS, 8 Dec 41, OCS Conf Binder 29; Stimson Diary, entry of 9 Dec 41. 
' Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43, p. 247. 
' Ltrs, SW to President, 25 Apr and 11 Sep 42, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



undisputed control of the western and mid- Pacific regions, and that the Jap- 
anese were in a strong position to dispute control of the eastern Pacific. On 
the other side of the world, Germany appeared to be stabilizing its position 
on the Soviet front and could thereafter release a hundred divisions and the 
bulk of its air force for operations in western Europe and Africa. The Soviet 
Union had already made known its intention of remaining neutral in the 
Pacific conflict, and War Plans suggested the possibility of a Nazi-Soviet 
negotiated peace in the near future. In the immediate future the planners 
anticipated the probability of intensified German air activity in the North 
Atlantic, including the possibility of air raids along the Atlantic coast of the 
United States, and they believed a German occupation of French North and 
West Africa more likely than a German drive against the Middle East. The 
occupation of Africa might be abetted by the increasingly subservient attitude 
of Vichy toward Germany. If Germany also obtained the remnant of the 
French Fleet, it could follow up the African operation with a military strike 
across the South Atlantic.'* 

In the Pacific, as General Gerow observed on 9 December, the Dutch East 
Indies appeared to be the prime Japanese objective, but Japan could most 
readily insure their capture and retention by occupying Oahu, or at least by 
containing and neutralizing America's Hawaiian outpost. The War Plans Divi- 
sion therefore anticipated the probability of a new Japanese attack on Hawaii 
and of a Japanese move to secure a base in the Aleutian Islands. Besides mak- 
ing raids on shipping to the east of Hawaii, the Japanese might also stage air 
attacks against exposed military objectives (especially the aircraft factories) 
on the Pacific coast and against the Panama Canal. A forecast by General 
Headquarters along these same general lines emphasized the peril to the Canal 
and the necessity of reinforcing Army airpower in the Panama area to permit 
effective reconnaissance of Pacific waters.^ 

Beyond these rather pessimistic analyses of the real possibilities of the 
war situation. Army estimates and plans of early and mid-December 1S>41 were 
influenced by a series of false alarms of impending enemy attacks and by a 
strong suspicion that the Axis Powers were acting in accordance with a closely 
co-ordinated plan of operations. Typical of the former was the report, tele- 
phoned personally by General Marshall to Fourth Army Headquarters on 
12 December, that a Japanese force including an aircraft carrier had been 
sighted off the California coast north of San Francisco and that it might at- 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4622-37. 
^ Notes on Conf in ODCS, 9 Dec 4l, OCS Conf Binder 29; Memo, G-2 GHQ for CG FF, 
10 Dec 41, WPD 4544-28; Menw, WPD for CofS, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4622-37. 



tack at any moment.'^ The President had voiced his belief in Axis co-operation 
in an address to the American people on 9 December. After stating that Ger- 
many had incited Japan to attack the United States, he continued: "We also 
know that Germany and Japan are conducting their military and naval oper- 
ations in accordance with a joint plan." ^ 

The European and Asiatic Axis partners in fact did not co-ordinate their 
military operations either before or after Pearl Harbor. Indeed, the Japanese 
attack came as a complete and somewhat unpleasant surprise to Hitler who, 
far from inciting Japan to war on the United States, was still hoping to keep 
the latter out of full participation in the conflict. Since July the Nazis had 
been egging on the Japanese to attack Siberia instead of southeast Asia. Nor 
did the Tripartite Pact require Germany to declare war on the United States 
after the Pearl Harbor attack. Japan was the obvious aggressor, and therefore 
the pact did not apply. Hitler decided to declare war (and Mussolini auto- 
matically followed suit) primarily because he feared that if Germany did not 
Japan might consider its Axis alliance a dead letter. On the same day that 
they declared war, the Germans announced the terms of a new Axis pact, 
which stated that the three partners would conduct the war "in common and 
jointly" and that none would make a separate peace or armistice without the 
others' consent. Beyond this, the only known co-ordination of German and 
Japanese operational plans was an agreement on a demarcation line through 
the Indian Ocean to divide their spheres of submarine activity. The lack of 
Axis military co-ordination seemed "almost incomprehensible" to Germany's 
Washington military attache when he learned of it on his return to Berlin 
in May 1942; and, amidst the stress of December 1941, American officialdom 
was frankly and properly incredulous that such could be the case.* 

Looking at the situation with the knowledge available as of 12 December 
lS)4l, the War Plans Division recommended the following program of Army 
action during the immediate future: 

1. Take all possible steps short of jeopardizing the security of Continental U.S. and 
the Panama Canal to reinforce the defenses of Oahu. 

2. Take immediate steps to establish in Northeast Brazil sufficient forces to deny this 
area to Axis forces. 

3. Take all practical measures to increase the security of the Panama Canal. 

'• Memo, Gen Marshall for WPD, 12 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, Book A, Tab C. 
' FDR Public Papers and Addresses, 1941. p. 529. 

» Haider Journal, VI, 215, entry of 9 Jul 41, and VII, 88, entry of 10 Sep 41; Fuehrer Con- 
ferences, 1941, II, 27-28, entry of 22 Aug 41; Interview with Joachim von Ribbentrop, 9 Jul 45, 
Ashcan/DI-34; WD Interv with General Warlimont, 28 Jul 45; Dept of State Interv with Dr. 
Kordt, 15-16 Dec 45; Statement of Field Marshal Keitel, 24 Jul 45; Statement of General Jodl, 
28 Jul 45; Statement of General von Boetticher, 27 Apr 47. 



4. Provide sufficient properly equipped forces for Defense Commands to insure the 
security of important areas and facilities on the coasts of the Continental U.S. 

5. Provide necessary reinforcements for Alaska and our Atlantic bases in the Western 

6. For the accomplishment of the above, utilize any equipment or supplies now avail- 
able or being produced in the U.S. for whatever purpose, curtailing aid to our associates 
as necessary. 

7. Immediately initiate all-out effort to accomplish the overall production program now 
contemplated for the ultimate defeat of our enemies.' 

Three days later General Headquarters drafted a similar but somewhat more 
specific "basic strategical plan," recommending three preparatory stages be- 
fore the Army launched any large overseas offensives. During stage one, the 
Army's major task would be to secure the nation's Pacific and Atlantic de- 
fenses—along the line Alaska-Hawaii-Ecuador in the Pacific and the line 
Newfoundland-Bermuda-Brazil in the Atlantic. The Pacific defense line 
would require (in order of priority) reinforcement of Hawaii, the Panama 
Canal defenses, and Alaska and establishment of "a secure southern flank in 
the general area of Guayaquil, Ecuador." First priority along the Atlantic 
fi-ont would go to reinforcement of Caribbean defenses and to establishment 
of American forces in Brazil. Following these moves the Army would rein- 
force Newfoundland, Bermuda, Greenland, and Iceland in that order. During 
the second stage, the Army would concentrate on building a highly mobile 
reserve (primarily of aircraft and of airborne troops) in the continental 
United States, capable of being moved rapidly to any threatened point along 
the defensive perimeter established during stage one. During the third stage 
the Army and Navy, having established a secure defensive position, would 
prepare the large land, sea, and air forces required for major offensive 

In revising its current estimate of the situation on 18 December, the War 
Plans Division incorporated certain general observations on strategy contrib- 
uted by General Embick two days earlier, and summarized the overseas rein- 
forcement measures then under way. The planners' analysis of the situation, 
including the potentialities of enemy action in the Atlantic and Pacific, re- 
mained unchanged. Though reporting and recommending continuation of 
the effort to reinforce the Philippines, the revised estimate otherwise urged 
immediate action only within the defensive perimeter previously outlined. It 
accepted General Embick's conclusion: 

9 Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Dec 41, Sec. IV, WPD 4622-37. An eighth paragraph called for 
a restudy of the naval building program. 

Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 15 Dec 41, GHQ 381, Sec. 2. General NcNair apparently 
never forwarded this memorandum to General Marshall. 



The entire national life of each of our enemies has been organized for years in prepa- 
ration for the present war. We and our allies are still in the early stages of such prepara- 
tion. In consequence for each it is essential that we avoid any and all commitments that 
will dissipate our present limited resources without assurance of adequate return, that we 
accept as the first essential the security of the home citadel, and that we proceed at maxi- 
mum speed to the development of the war machine which the potential of the nation 

The Army was not in fact free to adopt and follow any such orderly course 
of defensive and then offensive preparation as that advocated by the War 
Plans and General Headquarters staffs, though in succeeding months it did 
deploy forces in the Western Hemisphere to the approximate limits proposed 
in the mid-December recommendations.'^ The President and his principal 
War Department advisers— the Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff— had 
necessarily to look at the situation from a broader point of view than that of 
the Army planners. They had to consider political as well as strictly military 
factors in determining the course of Army action. They had also to weigh 
Army views against those of the Navy and against those of the nations asso- 
ciated with the United States in fighting the Axis. Possibly the most impor- 
tant factor in modifying the immediate outlook after Pearl Harbor was a 
growing realization that the Japanese attack was not part and parcel of a co- 
ordinated plan of the Axis nations to loose all their fury in the direction of 
the United States. During December it became increasingly evident that the 
United States could secure its position with a lesser defensive deployment 
than earlier supposed, and begin at once to consider military operations over- 
seas that would prepare for the larger offensives to come. 

Planning for the Offensive 

It appeared for a few days in mid-December that the first offensive opera- 
tion of United States forces might develop in the West Indies against Vichy- 
controlled Martinique and the French naval vessels harbored there. Since June 
1940 it had been American policy to maintain the status quo of France's 
New World possessions so long as they were not used in any way to assist 
Axis operations in the Atlantic. On 10 December the War Plans Division 
received a report from the Navy that the French aircraft carrier Beam might 
be getting ready to leave Martinique. Army authorities (Secretary Stimson, 
General Marshall, and General Gerow) decided this must not happen. The 

" Memo, written by Gen Embick, 16 Dec 41, sub: More Important Factors in Current Strategic 
Situation; Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Dec 41. Both in WPD 4622-37. 

The story of this deployment is treated in detail in Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guard- 
ing the United States. 



Beam was the only aircraft carrier possibly available to the European Axis 
Powers for operations in the Atlantic, neither the German nor Italian Navy 
possessing any. Even though it was not in fighting trim after eighteen 
months' internment and Martinique reportedly had only ten planes in con- 
dition to fly, Mr. Stimson told Secretary of State Hull that he would consider 
the Beam's escape a catastrophe. Mr. Hull apparently agreed, for he prom- 
ised to question Vichy at once on its intentions, and without waiting for an 
answer he told the Army and Navy to go ahead and capture or sink any 
French naval vessel that tried to leave Martinique. The Navy of course was 
to take the lead, but the Army Caribbean commander was ordered to support 
whatever action the Navy took." 

All of this happened on 10 December. On the following day Ambassador 
Leahy sought assurances from Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan not only 
about Martinique and its naval vessels but also about the French Fleet gen- 
erally, French Africa, and continued French neutrality in accordance with the 
1940 armistice terms. Vichy promised not to alter its policy on any of these 
points. Three days later, after delivering President Roosevelt's acknowledg- 
ment of these assurances, Ambassador Leahy requested that Vichy disarm the 
French possessions in the New World and permit American officers to super- 
vise their disarmament. He also offered American protection to the disarmed 
colonies. The French Government turned down these requests, thereby leav- 
ing the French possessions in statu quo, but it did authorize their governor, 
Admiral Robert, to renew in writing the informal agreement of November 
1940 to maintain the status quo. On 17 December Admiral Robert signed a 
confirmation of the earlier Robert-Greenslade agreement and delivered it to 
Rear Adm. Frederick J. Horne of the United States Navy.''' 

Pending the signature of Robert-Horne agreement, the Navy and Army 
had closely patrolled Martinique with ships and planes. The Washington 
planners reviewed the existing joint plan for the occupation of Martinique 
and Guadeloupe and proposed that the Army forces for that purpose be 
strengthened by additional planes and by airborne troops. The idea behind 
the revised plan was to "use a strong force, no bluff, and hit them with every- 
thing at once" if Admiral Robert rejected a surrender ultimatum— for which 
a one-hour time limit was suggested. The commander of the Caribbean De- 
fense Command would have much preferred this solution to the problem. 

" Notes on Conf in OCS, 10 Dec 41, OCS Conf Binder 29: Stimson Diary, entry of 10 Dec 
41; Note for Record, 10 Dec 41, WPD 4622-30; Entries of 10 Dec 4l, GHQ 314.81 Diary. See 
Chapters [HI and [Tvi above, for earlier plans and action. 

"* Papers in WPD 4337-9, including copy of the new agreement; Leahy, / Was There, pp. 65- 
67; Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 212-13. 



G-2 was as suspicious of Admiral Robert after the new agreement as before 
and urged that the French West Indies at least be kept under the closest 
scrutiny. On the other hand, the Department of State and the Navy accepted 
the assurances of Vichy and the written pledge of Admiral Robert in good 
faith, though the Army and Navy continued their sea and air patrol of Mar- 

On 24 December, one week after the conclusion of the Robert-Horne 
agreement, a small incident occurred that had serious implications and reper- 
cussions. The Free French seized the little islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, 
situated off Newfoundland's southern coast. This action not only violated 
the general status quo understanding with Vichy so recently reaffirmed, but 
also it violated pledges given by General Charles de Gaulle and by the British 
Government that no such move would be made without American consent. 
Secretary of State Hull took great umbrage at this incident, but neither 
President Roosevelt nor Prime Minister Churchill would back up Department 
of State demands that the Free French be evicted and the status quo restored. 
American public opinion, starved for "good" war news, had greeted this small 
and bloodless action with enthusiasm. The French admiral who made the 
seizure refused to leave, and the President felt that the United States could 
not "afford to send an expedition to bomb him out." Unquestionably, this 
affair had an adverse effect on the chances of securing French connivance in 
an unopposed Anglo-American entry into North Africa; it also helped to 
make General de Gaulle persona non grata to the American Department of 
State for the remainder of the war. Of equal significance, from Secretary Hull's 
viewpoint, was the fact that the seizure violated both American policy and 
the Havana agreements of 1940. The Department of State had consistently 
maintained that if and when protective occupation of European possessions 
became necessary, it must be undertaken by forces drawn from the American 
republics and not by Old World belligerent forces. Any such action also re- 
quired the approval of the other American nations. If Mr. Hull on the one 
hand seemed to magnify the incident out of all proportion to its true dimen- 
sions, the President and Prime Minister on the other showed no real under- 
standing of the underlying principles at stake or of the practical consequences 
of General de Gaulle's highhanded action. 

" Annex, Sec. VII, Nov 41 (but revised and extended after 7 Dec 41), to WD Strategic Esti- 
mate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theater Studies; Entries of 12 and 13 Dec 41, GHQ 314.81 Diary; 
Pets Ltt, Gen Andrews, CG CDC, to Gen Marshall, 16 Dec 41, WPD 4452-16; Memo, G-2 for 
WPD, 19 Dec 41, and other papers, WPD 4337-9. 

Memo for Record, President Roosevelt, 1 Jan 42, FDR Personal Letters, II, 1268. 

" The St. Pierre- Miquelon incident has been treated in detail in Sherwood, Koosevett and Hopkins, 
Ch. XXI; in Langer, Our Vichy Gamble, pp. 212-26; and in Hull, Memoirs, II, 1127-38. Mr. 
Churchill states his position in Grand Alliance, pp. 666-67. 



Before the Martinique question was resolved, President Roosevelt had 
asked the service chiefs for their recommendation with respect to an immedi- 
ate protective occupation of the Azores, either invited or uninvited. General 
Marshall and Admiral Stark advised him that the protection of Atlantic ship- 
ping required keeping the Azores out of German hands, and that this was 
still considered an American and not a British responsibility. At the urging 
of the War Plans Division, the service chiefs made no differentiation between 
the forces needed for a peaceful operation and a hostile one, holding that any 
force dispatched ought to be prepared for the worst. The initial combat landing 
force would have to number twenty-seven thousand men, and afterward it 
would need to be replaced by a holding force of thirty-two thousand. Since 
this operation would place a severe drain on available merchant shipping and 
on the Atlantic Fleet, the President was further advised that the Azores proj- 
ect could be undertaken only if all United States forces were withdrawn from 
Iceland, and then only with the understanding that convoys and the other 
Atlantic garrisons would have to get along with considerably less naval pro- 
tection while the Azores operation was in progress.'* 

The Navy, in particular, was reluctant to embark on a new Atlantic 

operation such as an Azores expedition, since its great concern centered on 

redressing its position in the Pacific and especially on securing the Hawaiian 

Islands against a new Japanese attack. General Marshall subscribed to the 

Navy's statement on this point: 

Unless every possible effort is made, and every suitable available resource of weapons 
and shipping is devoted to the restoration of the safety of the Hawaiian Islands, the United 
States may suddenly face a major disaster through the loss of those Islands to Japan. Not 
only would this be a terrible political blow, but we would at once lose our power of taking 
an offensive against Japan, without which the war may at best become a stalemate." 

Indeed, the Chief of Naval Operations on 11 December had urged that 
the Army put all of its available resources into the reinforcement of Hawaii, 
to the virtual exclusion of other overseas reinforcement. Admiral Stark, 
insisting that the islands were "in terrible danger of early capture by Japan," 
asked the Army to rush upwards of one hundred thousand equipped men 
with appropriate air support to Hawaii, both to reinforce Oahu and to permit 
the strong garrisoning of three of the other major islands. In response General 
Marshall, though acknowledging the strategic importance of Oahu, insisted 
that the Panama Canal and the Pacific coast must have a higher priority in 
reinforcement; he also pointed out that even if the military equipment and 

'» Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 14 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, Book 1; Memo, CofS for 
CNO, 14 Dec 41, WPD 4422-30. 

" Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 14 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, Book 1. 



shipping were available for a Hawaiian reinforcement as large as that pro- 
posed by Admiral Stark, the Navy was in no position to guarantee their safe 
passage to the islands. Oahu nevertheless did obtain large Army ground and 
air reinforcements during December and January.™ 

On the same day that the Marshall-Stark memorandum stressing the vital 
importance of Hawaiian reinforcement went to the President— 14 Decem- 
ber—Mr. Roosevelt, with the support of Secretary Stimson and General 
Marshall, decided to attempt reinforcement of the Philippines. General Mar- 
shall gave the task of seeking ways and means of carrying out this decision 
to Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had just reported for duty in 
Washington. In figuring ways and means General Eisenhower worked closely 
with Brig. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, the chief of G-4, and within the week 
their thought and energy helped to set in motion a line of military action of 
world-wide rather than Western Hemisphere dimensions.^' 

A convoy of Philippine-bound reinforcements sailing westward from 
Hawaii at the moment of the Japanese attack had already been diverted to 
Australia in the hope that it or some of its contents might be able to pro- 
ceed from thence to the Philippines. On 17 December General Marshall 
approved General Eisenhower's recommendation that an American military 
base be established in Australia as a position from which the Philippines 
might be supported. The rapidity of the Japanese advance was to block most 
of the planned reinforcement of the Philippines even from Australia, but the 
base established there soon became the focal point of American efforts to 
contain the southward Japanese advance. It was assumed at the outset that 
Australia would be primarily an air base, but in December 1941 there was 
no transpacific air route over which to send Army bombardment planes to 
Australia, though a new route out of Japanese reach was in the making. 

In consequence, the air route via northeastern Brazil and across the South 
Atlantic and Africa suddenly acquired vital importance. Developed during 
the preceding six months as an air ferrying and supply route to the Middle 
East, until February 1942 it was the only air route and the only quick supply 
route to the Far East. It therefore became urgently necessary to keep Brazil- 
ian and African airfields out of German reach. In Brazil, the Army had to be 

" Memo, CNO for CofS, 11 Dec 41, OPD Exec 4, Item 4, Tab F; Memo, CofS for CNO, 12 
Dec 41, WPD 4544-29; Tab B to Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Dec 41, WPD 4622-37; two WPD 
Memos for Record, 9 Jan 42, WPD 4622-39. For details of the reinforcement of Hawaii, see Conn, 
Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, Ch. V. 

^' Morton, Fall of the Philippines, pp. 145-48; MatlofF and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, 
pp. 87fF.; Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, pp. 395-96; Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in 
Europe (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1948), pp. 18-22. 



content for the moment with stationing small Marine detachments at three 

key airfields." If feasible, the best way to protect this new life line to the 

Middle and Far East would have been to block German penetration into 

Africa by getting there first. The Assistant Secretary of War for Air, Robert 

A. Lovett, after discussing the South Atlantic situation with his chief on 

17 December, in writing urged: 

The Northeastern shoulder of South America and the Western bulge of Africa are 
absolutely essential as cake-ofF and landing points if we are to get aircraft to the Middle 
East, Russia and the Far East. There is increasing evidence of German design against Span- 
ish Morocco and of collaboration with the French in Morocco and Algeria. Any German 
penetration of the West Coast of Africa would be a grave threat to our ability to accel- 
erate the termination of the war. ... I respectfully recommend that the protection of 
the Western bulge of Africa and this essential air route be moved up to the highest 
priority classification. 

General Arnold promptly indorsed Mr. Lovett's recommendation." Mr. Stim- 
son was persuaded that the saving of western Africa was second in importance 
only to "the primary question of saving the British Isles and winning the 
Battle of the Atlantic" 

Thus by 18 December, the day the Army received British proposals for 
an agenda to guide the Anglo-American (Arcadia) conference soon to begin, 
Army authorities were already taking a broader view of the war situation 
across the Atlantic as well as across the Pacific. They were beginning to think 
in terms of a limited projection of American military power across both oceans 
in the immediate future. 

In preparation for the Arcadia meetings, the Army and the Navy had to 
reassess the war situation, redefine their strategic objectives, and decide on 
both the immediate and the long-range courses of action most likely to 
achieve those objectives. The war outlook remained gloomy enough, though 
not so grim as it had appeared in American eyes during the first week after 
7 December. Japan's overwhelming naval and air superiority in the Far East 
made it seem probable that the Japanese could capture Malaya and the Dutch 
East Indies, cut off Chinese communications with India, and gravely threaten 
Australia and New Zealand and their communications with the United States. 
General Marshall and Admiral Stark believed that even as the Japanese swept 
southward they had the means to make continued raids on the Hawaiian 
Islands a probability, and devastating raids on Alaska, the Pacific coast, and 

" These detachments were dispatched from Quantico, Virginia, on 15 Decemhrr and arrived at 
their Brazilian stations on 19 and 20 December 1941. For further details, see [Chapter XIl| below. 

" Memo, ASW for Air for SW, 18 Dec 41; Memo, DCofS for Air for SW, 20 Dec 41. Both in 
SW file, War Plans. Arnold was promoted to lieutenant general on 15 December 1941. 
Stimson Diary, entry of 19 Dec 41. 



the Panama Canal distinct possibilities. In the Atlantic area, German and 
Italian forces had been routed in eastern Libya after a hard battle begun in 
mid- November, and were still falling back toward Tripoli. The Germans 
were also reported to be withdrawing ground and air forces from the Eastern 
Front, where Soviet arms had finally checked the German advance. Neither 
of these setbacks, in the view of the Army planners, had materially weakened 
Germany's position; rather, they held that the Germans possessed such power- 
ful land and air forces -that for the time being their position in Europe was 
secure against any major attack. Germany's future course of action, the 
planners believed, might be either to renew the advance toward the East (both 
in the Soviet Union and in the Mediterranean area) in order to join hands 
with Japan, or to stabilize in the East and undertake the invasion of Great 
Britain. Whichever course the Germans chose, they could be expected "to 
occupy the Iberian Peninsula and the West Coast of Africa and continue opera- 
tions in the Atlantic in order to interrupt British and American air and sea 
communications with the Middle and Far East." General Marshall and Admiral 
Stark agreed on the likelihood of a German advance into French North and 
West Africa and, coupled with this, an intensified campaign by Axis sub- 
marine and surface raiders against Atlantic shipping. "We can expect," they 
advised, "the frequent appearance of submarines on the coasts of North and 
South America"— a forecast soon to be validated.^' But there was also a real 
danger in overestimating enemy capabilities. In urging Secretary of War 
Stimson to advocate offensive action wherever possible. Assistant Secretary of 
War McCIoy observed: 

The initiative Germany gained in Western Europe forced Great Britain on the defen- 
sive, which, until the recent Libyan campaign has been the theme of British strategy since 
that time. The naval blow dealt the United States by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor has 
produced a somewhat similar view by the naval and military authorities of the United 
States. Japan, Germany, and Italy, each operating on interior lines, are rapidly encircling 
the Western Hemisphere, and unless immediate offensive action is undertaken by the 
United States the war will eventually result in a total defense of this hemisphere.^* 

General Marshall and Admiral Stark in their recommendations to the 
President carefully distinguished between what it was essential and what it 
was desirable to do in the immediate future. The United Kingdom and Ice- 
land had to be held at all costs, and the maintenance of Anglo-American sea 
communications in the North Atlantic was essential to a continuance of the 
war effort. In the Pacific, they thought it essential to hold Hawaii and con- 

" Paper, 20 Dec 41, title: Brief Joint Estimate of the Mil Situation of the Associated Powers. 
WPD 4402-136; WPD paper, 21 Dec 41, title; General Strategic Review, OPD Exec 4, Book 2. 
" Memo, ASW for SW, 20 Dec 41, WPD 4402-136. 



tinue the operation of a strong fleet from there, since in their opinion the 
Hawaiian Islands constituted the only position from which the United States 
could eventually launch offensive operations against Japan. In Asia, Great 
Britain had to keep control of India in order to prevent the juncture of Axis 
forces. If possible, the Soviet Union had to be kept in the war since "Russia 
alone possesses the manpower potentially able to defeat Germany in the field." 
These were the essentials. The desirables included holding or gaining control 
of all other strategic areas threatened by the Axis Powers. For example: "The 
Atlantic Islands (Azores, Cape Verde, etc.) should not pass into enemy con- 
trol. The Middle East and French and Italian North Africa, if firmly in the 
hands of the Associated Powers, would constitute a position from which the 
United States and the United Kingdom could employ offensive action against 
Italy, Spain, and France, and thus indirectly against Germany." " 

The basic difficulty of the United States in choosing an immediate course 
of action, as the planners saw it, was that the Army could not "at this moment 
employ any large forces outside the Western Hemisphere because of short- 
ages in equipment, ammunition, and shipping."^* Because of the first two 
shortages, the Army still had only one division in the United States ready 
for immediate active service overseas. While the Army could complete the 
relief of British troops in Iceland, or dispatch an expeditionary force to the 
Natal area, or the Azores, or the Cape Verdes, or reinforce the Philippines 
or Dutch East Indies, because of the shipping shortage it could not execute 
"more than one, or at most two, of these operations simultaneously." 
From this point of view the Army planners, though acknowledging the high 
desirability of establishing American control in French West Africa, could 
not see how it could be done in the near future. If the Germans wished, the 
War Plans Division believed, they could during the winter of 1941^2 put 
as many as fifty divisions with air support into African operations and gain 
control of the entire coast from Tripoli to Dakar. Current plans for an 
American occupation of Dakar and the Cape Verde Islands called for a total 
force of 171,000 men, and the planners held that it would be impossible to 
prepare a force of that magnitude for movement overseas before the summer 
of 1942.30 

On 21 December, the eve of the Arcadia Conference, President Roose- 
velt met with his principal Army and Navy advisers to receive their estimates 

" Paper, 20 Dec 41, title: Brief Joint Estimate . . . , WPD 4402-136. 

28 WPD paper, 21 Dec 41, title: General Strategic Review, OPD Exec 4, Book 2, 

29 WPD study, 21 Dec 41, title: Immediate Mil Measures, OPD Exec 4, Book 2. 

30 WPD Comments, 21 Dec 41, on Memo, SW for President, 20 Dec 41, WPD 4402-136; 
WPD study, 21 Dec 41, title: Immediate Mil Measures, OPD Exec 4, Book 2. 



of the war situation and to discuss the recommended courses of action. The 
President and his advisers tentatively decided to complete the relief of British 
Army forces in Iceland and to send at least two divisions to Northern Ire- 
land in order to release British troops for the defense of England and Scotland. 
In the southern Atlantic, the Dakar-Cape Verdes project was to be given 
first priority in Army planning, the Azores project was to be "subordinated," 
and the possibility of landing in North Africa was "to be studied." No fur- 
ther ship transfers from the Atlantic to the Pacific Fleet were to be made. In 
the Pacific, this meeting confirmed the establishment of an American base in 
Australia and the necessity for securing communication with it across the 
Pacific. ^1 

The ARCADIA Decisions 

The Anglo-American conference began with a meeting between the 
President, the Prime Minister, and their political advisers on the evening of 
22 December and continued through the final White House conference on 
14 January 1942. " At their initial meeting, the President and the Prime 
Minister decided to push two projects that were to dominate the discussion 
at the Arcadia staff conferences. One involved sending four partially trained 
and equipped American divisions to Northern Ireland, where they would re- 
lieve three fully trained British divisions for service elsewhere. The other 
project was for an Anglo-American occupation of French North Africa 
(Morocco and Algeria), to be undertaken with French acquiescence as soon 
as the British Libyan offensive approached French Tunisia. The President's 
enthusiasm for these two operations reflected his desire to have the Ameri- 
can people understand their full commitment in the Atlantic war at a moment 
when American attention was focused on the Pacific. The first increment of 
American troops began to move to Northern Ireland in January 1942, and 
in the same month additional United States Army replacements were sent 
for the relief of the marines and British troops in Iceland. The Iceland relief 
was completed by midsummer, but the Ireland movement never reached the 
dimensions contemplated. For various reasons, the North Africa scheme 
(Gymnast) proved completely abortive for the time being, despite recog- 
nition that it was the project "of the first strategical importance in the 

" Paper, wriccen by SW Scimson, title: Memo of Decisions at the White House, Sunday, 21 
Dec 41, WDCSA 381 (12-21-41). There is reason to suspect that Mr. Stimson's memorandum 
is not a complete record of the discussion and decisions at the meeting, but there is no other 
contemporary record in Army files. See also Arnold, Global Mission, p. 275. 

" On the Arcadia Conference, see Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, Ch. V, and 
Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, Ch. XX. 


Atlantic area."^' The anticipated German drive through Spain into north- 
western Africa never materialized; instead the Gerrtuns used such planes and 

Africa Korps, thereby^ staying the British offensive and then (late January 
1942) driving the British back toward Egypt, The British also suffered dis- 
astrous naval losses in the Mediterranean diuing December 1941. Whatever 
di^sition Krench (and possibly Spattisb) authorities tec M^m^^' 
operate with the.^^SQifi$^|^«i»|<^^^^ 
to be shelved. 

Aiiglo- American decisions on other projects indttded an acaptaftce fey 
the United States of its ABC-1 commitrncjit to relieve British rtcxjps protecting 
^e Dutch West Indian islands of Curasao and Aruba, vita! for the war effort 
because of their large oil refineries. American troops relieved the British in 
I^SMttwy- S!it42H:'1^:flti^#,^Baaeri responsibility for occupying tte Aabffes 
as well as thc Ckoaiit^ jf ©Ishcf opCRttioilL became necessary, while the United 
States accepted responsibility for occupying the Cape Verde Islands off 
French Wrat Africa and on the flank of the vitally important South Atlantic 
air route, lite Bakar pro^^ {foe a large-scale landing against opposition) 
also remained a possibility for United States forces, but since it was assumed 
that it would involve much larger forces than Gymnast it was now con- 
BjdiKed impossifefcto Jlauncli the operacion before the a\itumn of 1942. In*?' 
spective of othejr picfi^ge^ <^etations in the Atlantic areSj the United States 
Army still wanted to put a sizable protective force into northeastern Brazil, 
and the conferees agreed this plan should be kept alive as a United Stares 
ifeSpansibiUty,** The n^wd Japanese advance into Malaysia dtirii^ and imme- 
diately after the Arcadia meetings made the initial plans for the defense of 
that area relatively meanit^less and helped also to frustrate an Arncrican 
design to get the Soviet Uffloo into the Far Eastern war and to iise'Slbttiiani 
aisfisJ4iiis''*0' bomb Japan.'' Indeed, except for 1|he peeepisive American rein* 
forcement of the Hawaii- Australia line of communication and the large 
build-up of the new United States base in Australia, the aaual deployment 
^ tiba EjiSite^ State* AwMf Imbti daftftg maest i^am^oi&sA imm 

^(^^jt' 'SNlth the perimeter defense concept postulated by the War Plans 
Division and General Headquarters in mid-December than with the iPQijC 
ambitious offensive ideas advanced during the Arcadia meetings^ 


'*ABC-!/6. ]ihm AZ. 

" Madoff and Snell, SfralegK PJaanfitg, 1941-A2, pp. 142-46. 



This first great Anglo-American conference of the war nevertheless had 
a profound and lasting significance beyond its immediate military decisions. 
In at least three directions the Arcadia meetings made a notable contribu- 
tion to the ultimate victory of the United States and its associates in the 
war. In the first place, they confirmed the basic strategy outlined in the 
ABC-1 agreement of early 1941. Germany was recognized as the predominant 
member of the Axis triumvirate, and the Atlantic and European area as the 
principal war theater. Therefore, despite Japan's rampage in the western 
Pacific, it was agreed "that only the minimum of force necessary for the safe- 
guarding of vital interests in other theatres should be diverted from opera- 
tions against Germany." Secondly, the conference approved the establish- 
ment of a combined Anglo-American staff organization in Washington to 
integrate strategic planning of the two nations. This move had the almost 
equally significant but somewhat unintentional result of establishing the United 
States Joint Chiefs of Staff (Army, Army Air, and Navy). An even more 
significant step was the creation of the first unified theater command. Though 
the Australian-British-Dutch-American (ABDA) Command, organized in 
Malaysia under British General Wavell, proved short-lived, it set the prece- 
dent for the unified commands in the Mediterranean and western Europe that 
directed Anglo-American forces to victory." Finally, the President and the 
Prime Minister took the lead in drafting the United Nations Declaration, 
signed on New Year's Day 1942 by the representatives of twenty-six nations 
fighting the Axis and pledging their mutual co-operation, the full employ- 
ment of their resources in the war, and their agreement not to make a 
separate peace or armistice.'* Collectively, these decisions and actions meant 
that the United States, Great Britain, and the rest of the newly christened 
United Nations were henceforth not going to fight the Axis aggressors alone 
and defensively, but together and offensively in every theater of the war. 

"> ABC-4/CS1, 31 Dec 41, title; Amer-British Grand Strategy. 

" Cline, Washington Command Post, pp. 98-100; MatlofF and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941- 
42, pp. 123-26. 

*° Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 446-53. 


General Military Relations With 
Latin America 

The United States, during the decade 1929-39, laid the foundation for 
closer military relations with the Latin American nations by pursuing what 
has been so aptly termed the "Good Neighbor" policy. The essence of this 
policy was United States support by word and action for the sovereignty and 
territorial integrity of the Western Hemisphere nations. During the Hoover 
and Roosevelt administrations, the United States proceeded to abolish both 
the form and substance of protectorates in the Caribbean area. When in the 
mid-1930's an upsurge of totalitarianism and aggression in the Old World 
foreshadowed the possibility of another general war, the United States Con- 
gress with the President's acquiescence tried to insulate the nation from 
involvement in such a conflict by passing neutrality acts in 1935 and 1937. 
In this same period President Roosevelt took the initiative in fashioning a 
front of hemispheric neutrality toward Old World wars by calling and attend- 
ing in person the Inter- American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, 
which met in Buenos Aires in December 1936. 

The Buenos Aires conference adopted principles of far-reaching signifi- 
cance. The United States and the other American republics foreswore indi- 
vidual intervention in each other's internal or external affairs of any sort and 
for whatever reason. The conference also approved a Declaration of Principles 
of Inter- American Solidarity and Cooperation, which stated that "every act 
susceptible of disturbing the peace of America affects each and every" 
American republic and "justifies the initiation of the procedure of consulta- 
tion." ' Two years later the Declaration of Lima reaffirmed the intention of 
the American republics to support each other in case of any non-American 
attack on any one of them and provided specifically, when an emergency 
arose, for assembling their foreign ministers to decide on policies and plans 
for common action. Such meetings took place at Panama in October 1939, 
following the outbreak of war in Europe; at Havana in July 1940, following 
the defeat of France; and at Rio de Janeiro in January 1942, after Japan's 

> U.S. Dept of State, Peace and War, p. 353. 



attack plunged the United States into the war. Despite the stresses of the inter- 
national situation and its own growing military preponderance, the United 
States by means of these conferences managed to maintain with rather re- 
markable fidelity the principles of the Good Neighbor policy in its arrange- 
ments with the Latin American nations for hemisphere defense. 

The Good Neighbor policy evolved during a period in which the United 
States Army had the slenderest of associations with its Latin American 
counterparts. At the beginning of 1938 the Army had only six military 
attaches assigned among the twenty Latin American republics. Three repre- 
sented the Army in Mexico, Cuba, and Brazil; the other three were accredited 
to two or more countries. Lt. Col. Joseph B. Pate, stationed in Panama, was 
also expected to represent the Army in Venezuela, Colombia, and the five 
republics of Central America. No military attaches were accredited to Peru, 
Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. In addition to the attaches, the 
Army had two military missions serving in Latin America— a four-man group 
in Brazil and a one-man mission in Guatemala.^ The very limited Army 
representation in Latin America reflected two policies: first, a political policy 
of avoiding anything that might be construed as an intrusion in Latin Ameri- 
can military affairs, carried out even to the extent of discouraging private 
munitions sales by American manufacturers; and second, until late 1938, a 
military policy of limiting the mission of the armed forces to the defense of 
the continental United States and its outlying territories. 

Alarmed by the increasing volume of German Nazi and Italian Fascist 
activity in Latin America, the Department of State, rather than the armed 
services, took the initiative in convening an informal interdepartmental con- 
ference on 10 January 1938 to discuss ways and means of providing greater 
military assistance to the other American republics. After this meeting, the 
Department of State proposed such limited measures of co-operation as 
training additional Latin American students in United States service schools; 
more frequent visits of naval vessels and demonstration flights of service air- 
craft in Latin America; visits by high-ranking Latin American officers to the 
United States; and providing Army and Navy publications to military libraries 
in Latin America. A month later the Department of State added to this list 
a recommendation that additional qualified military and naval attaches be 
appointed to the Latin American capitals, including air attaches at certain 
key points.' To buttress these proposals, the Department of State transmitted 

2 Memo, G-2 for DCofS, 13 Apr 38, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 7; Incl 4 to Memo, G-2 for CofS, 
18 Apr 38, AG 336 (2-12-38). 

' Ltrs, Secy State to SW, 12 Feb and 12 Mar 38, AG 336 (2-12-38). 



a review of current Nazi and Fascist activity, which noted that practically 
everywhere in Latin America the German and Italian "colonies" had been 
organized and brought under party control. Their activity was being backed 
up by the German and Italian Governments with free international news 
services, subsidies for Latin American newspapers, underwriting of arm sales, 
provision of military missions, and, in the economic sphere, an "aggressive 
commercial policy founded on bilateral balancing, subsidization, and currency 
depreciation." * 

The Department of State's proposals led the War Department to make a 
serious study of methods by which the military relations of the United 
States with Latin America could be expanded and improved. As a result, the 
Military Intelligence Division in April 1938 recommended a broader range 
of activities than the Department of State had suggested, and the Chief of 
Staff approved these recommendations on 20 May. The War Department, 
though handicapped by a shortage of qualified officers, was immediately ready 
to appoint three more military attaches. It was also prepared to act on the 
other proposals made by the Department of State — to accept a maximum of 
fifty Latin American students at Army service schools, to arrange for Army 
training flights from Panama to Central and South American countries, and 
to supply unclassified technical publications if funds could be obtained to 
pay for them. In addition, the Army advocated the establishment of addi- 
tional military missions and advanced two proposals that were to be of 
outstanding importance in the years to come: the backing of Amercan-owned 
commercial aviation interests in Latin America, and the active promotion of 
American munitions sales.' 

While the State, War, and Navy Departments were formulating plans 
for closer military collaboration, a new vehicle for supervising and co-ordi- 
nating the execution of a Latin American program evolved, the Standing 
Liaison Committee. Established with the President's approval in April 1938, 
it consisted of the Under Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff, and the Chief 
of Naval Operations. Though originally intended to provide a means for co- 
ordinating all diplomatic-military problems between the Department of State 
and the services, from its first recorded meeting on 20 June 1938 it con- 
cerned itself principally with Latin American military problems.* 

Resume of Dept of State memo on Italian Fascist and German Nazi Activity in the Amer 
Republics, 1 Mar 38, SLC Min, Vol. I. Item 2. 

' Memo, G-2 for CofS, 18 Apr 38, approved by CofS on 20 May 38 and forwarded as Incl to 
Ltr, SW to Secy State, 20 May 38, AG 336 (2-12-38). 

'' On its origin and funaioning, see SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 4-6, 23. 



Despite this rather auspicious beginning, the Army's plans for closer 
military collaboration with Latin America did not get very far in terms of 
action until after Hitler's armies swarmed into France in May 1940. Brazil 
was the important exception. An exchange of visits between General Marshall 
and the Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Army in the early summer of 1939 
established a plane of intimacy between the armies of the two nations and 
started them on the road toward a full wartime collaboration.^ Not much 
was accomplished in other directions. Although there was much talk on the 
subject, the Department of State continued to reject any backing of American 
aviation interests in Latin America for military purposes until May 1940.* 
Until after the war in Europe began in September 1939, the Army likewise 
made no progress in finding ways and means to supply the Latin Americans 
with munitions.' The Army did succeed between 1938 and June 1S>40 in 
doubling the number of its military attaches in Latin America, though the 
twelve officers then assigned to this duty were hardly adequate in number or 
sufficiently high in rank to give the Army the liaison with Latin American 
armies that it needed when the crisis in hemisphere defense arrived in May 
1940.*" Then the United States had to move fast to secure assurances of 
military collaboration from the Latin American nations, since it looked as if 
plans for hemisphere defense might soon have to be translated into practice. 

The Staff Conversations and Agreements of 1940 

President Roosevelt, who for some time had been concerned over the 
vulnerability of the island of Fernando de Noronha off the Brazilian coast, 
on 30 April 1940 directed Admiral Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, to 
arrange for conversations with Brazilian authorities to insure the security of 
the island against a transoceanic attack. After consultation. Admiral Stark 
and General Marshall on 7 May sent Under Secretary of State Welles an 
outline for conversations, on the assumption that diplomatic representatives 
would do the actual conferring." Three days later German forces moved 
against France, and their precipitous advance created a new and altogether 
ominous outlook by 15 May. On 16 May, the President directed his military 

' See Chs.S ll andfjClj. below. 
" See |Ch. Xj below. 
' See jCh. IXL below. 

"' For example, a majoi served as military attache in Argentina, and a second lieutenant held 
a roving commission among Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

' ' Memo, President Roosevelt for CNO, 30 Apr 40, WPD 4224-86; Memo, CofS and CNO 
for Under Secy State, 7 May 40, WPD 4224-1 16, 



advisers to prepare plans at once for developing closer military relations with 
Latin America. Thus the proposal for conversations with Brazil broadened 
into a plan for conversations with most of the Latin American nations. 

On the continued assumption that Department of State representatives 
would conduct the preliminary conversations, General Marshall directed his 
planners to draft suggestions for them. He specified that all nations 
approached were to be asked how, and how extensively, they could co- 
operate in hemisphere defense. The South American nations, in particular, 
were to be asked what assistance they could offer to actual operations by 
United States forces. Army and Navy planners collaborated on 17 May in 
preparing suggestions, and the Chief of Staff was able to present their pro- 
posals to the Department of State on the following day. In them, the military 
planners suggested that each nation approached should be asked to reaffirm 
its adherence to the Declaration of Lima and to indicate whether or not it 
would be willing to accept aid from, and extend aid to, other American re- 
publics (including the United States) in the event that its security or the 
security of other American nations was threatened by attack or intervention 
fi^om overseas. Nations that expressed a willingness to extend such aid were 
then to be asked to agree to make available their existing bases for land, air, 
and naval forces, and also the essential communications facilities that would 
make that aid effective. The Department of State was also asked to empha- 
size in the conversations the strategic and critical importance of the Brazilian 
bulge in the defense of the Americas. Each nation indicating a willingness 
to collaborate with United States forces in such military operations as the 
emergency might require was then to be asked to authorize further military 
staff conversations between its designated representatives and officers of the 
United States Army and Navy. 

President Roosevelt approved these proposals on 23 May, and the pro- 
cedure they outlined was in general that followed between June and October 
1940. The only significant change came on the same day, when it was de- 
cided that both preliminary and subsequent conversations should be conducted 
by Army and Navy staff officers. Accordingly, the Department of State in- 
structed its representatives to seek the approval of the governments concerned 
to secret and informal discussions at their capitals between United States 
and Latin American officers, to deal with the currently critical international 
situation and common measures to combat it. " 

'2 Memo of Conf in OCS, 17 May 40; Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 May 40; Memo, CofS for 
Under Seq^ State, 18 May 40. All in WPD 4115-14. 

" Telg, Dept of State to Lat Amer Reps, 23 May 40, quoted in Langer and Gleason, Chal- 
lenge to Isolation, pp. 615-16. 



All of the countries approached (Bolivia, Paraguay, and Panama being 
omitted) approved the Department of State's proposal, although with some 
reservations; Mexico, for example, expressed its preference for discussing 
military matters in Washington, and Army and Navy representatives partici- 
pated in a preliminary conference with the Mexican ambassador there on 
11 June that led to more formal military staff" conferences in July.'"* The Army 
and Navy prepared instructions for their designated representatives — officers 
selected principally from their War Plans Divisions— on 29 May, and these 
officers departed in early June." They were instructed to propound approxi- 
mately the same questions suggested to the Department of State on 18 May. 
In effect, they sought fulfillment of one item in the new Rainbow 4 war 
plan, completed and approved at this same time, which read: 

With respect to the Latin American Republics, universal assurance should be sought 
that each State will make available to the armed forces of the United States, immediately 
as the necessity arises in carrying out our operations for Hemisphere Defense or in behalf 
of any State, the use of its available sea, ait, and land bases."" 

The first round of United States-Latin American military staff discussions 
took place in sixteen of the twenty Latin American capitals between 9 and 
24 June, each under the auspices of the local senior diplomatic representative 
of the United States.'^ All of the nations approached, except Argentina, indi- 
cated their general willingness to co-operate with the United States in mili- 
tary measures for hemisphere defense and to engage in further and more 
formal staff conversations. The principal and nearly universal qualification to 
this Latin American pledge of support was an acknowledgment of inability 
to cope with any serious external attack because of a general lack of modem 
armaments. Therefore, they all wanted arms, in greater or lesser quantities, 
from the United States, and none could afford to pay for them.'* All of the 
nations approached (again, except Argentina) agreed that the danger to the 
Western Hemisphere was very real, although each tended to anticipate an 
attack in the direction of its own territory. The period of the discussions was 
the period of the French collapse and armistice and of general agreement in 

See lCh. XillJ below. 
" Drafts of boch Army and Navy instructions, WPD 4115-16. 

" Sec. VII, par. 2, Jt A&N Basic War Plan Rainbow 4, presented to the JB on 31 May and 
approved by it on 7 June, JB 325, ser 642-4. 

" The Army and Navy officers sent to Latin America in June 1940 were generally referred to 
at the time as engaged in "liaison missions," and the second round of conferences, which began 
in August, were referred to as "staff conversations." The American officers reported directly to 
the War and Navy Departments, and copies of the Army reports are in WPD 4115-24, WPD 
4115-25, WPD 4115-26, and WPD 4115-28, except for those of the conversations with Brazil 
and Argentina, The record of the Brazilian discussions , which are d ealt with separately in Chapter 
[Xl] below, are in WPD 4224-101. On Argentina, see |pp. 181^^ below. 

'» Memo Lt Col Arthur R. Harris (G-2) for WPD, 28 Jun 40, WPD 41 15-28. 



Washington that the immediate future was dark indeed. Also, in the midst 
of these conversations the United States issued the call for the Havana G)n- 
ference of Foreign Ministers. On 10 July, therefore, it was decided to postpone 
any further military staff conversations until the results of the Havana meet- 
ing became known, and the Latin American nations were so informed." 

There were a number of developments between the June staff discussions 
and the more formal staff conversations that began in August that helped to 
define the framework for military collaboration with Latin America. In late 
June the President authorized the Army to make arrangements with Pan 
American Airways to develop airway facilities in the Latin American nations 
that would permit deployment in an emergency of American airpower toward 
the South American continent.^" At the Havana Conference, which assembled 
on 21 July, the American nations agreed on procedures for the temporary 
occupation, if necessary, of European possessions in the New World, includ- 
ing a provision that sanctioned emergency action by United States forces 
acting alone. Also, the United States announced its intention of bolstering 
sagging Latin American economies by large-scale loans. Soon after the Ha- 
vana meeting, the Destroyer- Base Agreement with Great Britain provided 
the means for introducing United States forces into a chain of defensive 
positions along the Atlantic front. Furthermore, by the end of summer the 
chances of Britain's survival appeared much brighter than they had in June, 
and therefore the threat of an early German attack across the Atlantic seemed 
to have faded. ^' 

Between the two rounds of staff conversations, the War Depanment 
adopted a basic policy toward Latin America that it consistently followed 
until after the entry of the United States into the war. On 8 July the Mili- 
tary Intelligence Division, in presenting proposals for various measures of 
military co-operation, asked for a decision on the basic objective of the United 
States in Latin America. Specifically, it asked: 

Do we wish to embark seriously upon a program of raising the military efficiency of 
Latin American forces to a point where they would be of material aid to us as allies in 
hemisphere defense? Or, alternatively, shall we limit our efforts to obtaining the indirea 
results which would follow a better mutual understanding . . . " 

For a variety of reasons G-2 urged the second course. It believed the crucial 
argument in its favor was the time factor: the critical period in hemisphere 
defense would be the succeeding twelve months, and within that time the 

" Me mo. WP P for CofS, 10 Jul 40, and atchd papers, WPD 4115-27. 

2" See ICh. X.| below. 

^' For these developments, see ICh. Ill above. 

" Memo, G-2 for CofS, 8 Jul 40, AG 380 (5-24-40). 



United States, because of its own acute shortage of modern equipment, could 
do very little to improve the strength of the Latin American armed forces. 
G-2's recommendation, concurred in by the other staff divisions and approved 
by the Chief of Staff and Secretary of War on 26 July, resulted in a defini- 
tion of the Army's basic Latin American objective in the following terms: 

Objective— better mutual understanding; impressing Latin American officers with our 
military preparedness and our determination to uphold the Monroe Doctrine; affording 
selected officers of our Army opportunity of studying Latin America. In attaining our ob- 
jective, we should concentrate on those countries of the most immediate military impor- 
tance to us. Our objective does not comprise expectations on our part of being able to 
use Latin American forces as effective allies in war.^' 

A few days later President Roosevelt approved a Latin American arms 
policy in consonance with this basic objective: to supply the principal nations 
with enough arms to ward off an external attack until United States forces 
could arrive.^'' The 1940 staff conversations and agreements that followed 
were intended primarily to insure that Latin American land, air, and sea base 
facilities would be available to United States forces when they did arrive. 

The Army and Navy officers chosen to conduct the new round of staff 
conversations received instructions authorizing them to make detailed in- 
quiries of each of the Latin American states approached about their military 
readiness to deal with external attacks and internal disorders. Their objective 
was the conclusion of military staff agreements that would provide for the 
continued exchange of military information and for the co-ordination of hem- 
isphere defense measures— particularly for the dispatch on request of United 
States forces to any nation in danger of external attack. As an integral part 
of the stafT agreement, the conferees were authorized to pledge: 

The United States will employ its armed forces to assist any republic to defeat attacks 
on it by the armed forces of a non-American state or by fifth column groups supported 
by a non-American state, when requested to do so by the recognized government of the 
republic concerned .... 

The United States will assist American republics to acquire armaments, to train their 
personnel, and to provide the assistance of such advisers as may be desired and available. 
In the supply of armaments, the United States will assist to the extent that its resources, 
present programs, and legal restrictions permit, either by releasing material from its exist- 
ing stocks, or by making available the necessary manufacturing capacity in government or 
commercial plants.^' 

The staff agreements made were to be subject to the subsequent political 
approval of the governments concerned. 

^' Ibi d. Italics in original. 
" See lCh. IXJ below. 

" WPD Memo No. 1, 2 Aug 40, sub: Instructions for WD Ln Offs, WPD 4115-29. 



Between mid- August and the end of October 1940, Army and Navy offi- 
cers engaged in military staff conversations with all of the American republics 
save Mexico and Panama.^'' In return for the pledges of United States assist- 
ance, they sought assurances regarding all or most of the following points, 
that reach nation would be ready 

1. To call upon the United States for armed assistance in the event of an actual or 
threatened attack. 

2. To report to the United States, by the fastest means available, the origin, apparent 
objective, and initial progress of any non-American attack. 

3. To explain, by broadcast, to the rest of the world, and particularly to the other 
American republics, the reason for its action in the event they requested the armed 
assistance of the United States. 

4. To ask for the aid of the other republics [as] if the proceedings of the Havana Con- 
ference had been ratified and a general Pan American agreement ■were in existence. 

5. To permit the transit of United States forces going to the aid of a neighbor, making 
available its railways, seaports, airports, and other facilities. 

6. To effect the most appropriate and efficient distribution of its own forces to defend 
vital installations within its territory. 

7. In the event of attack and pending the arrival of United States forces to assist: 

a. To take such steps as were necessary to maintain internal order and to insure that 
the existing government remained in office and continued to exercise authority. 

b. To continue to defend and prevent damage to transport and signal communica- 
tions systems. 

c. To defeat, delay, or interfere with enemy operations so far as remaining available 
means permit. 

8. To develop and maintain an effective and complete interchange of intelligence relat- 
ing to continental security. 

9- To develop and maintain an adequate and efficient secret service in order to keep 
under surveillance the activities and movements of all aliens and their sympathizers, and 
to control subversive groups. 

10. To eliminate anti-United States propaganda in time of emergency. 

11. To furnish such air photographs or to permit the taking or such air photographs 
as might be needed in connection with plans for specific operations, after being informed 
cf the nature and intended use of such photographs. 

12. To permit such medical, engineering, and signal surveys of conditions and facili- 
ties as the United States might wish to make.^^ 

The staff conversations resulted in the conclusion of military staff agree- 
ments between the United States and each nation approached, except Argen- 
tina. All of the agreements contained pledges of United States assistance in 

" Staff con versations and an informal staff agreement had already been concluded with Mexico. 
See |Ch. X11I[ below. Panama had no Army, and the Department of State agreed to the Army's 
plan of having all military arrangements with Panama conducted by the commanding general of 
the Panama Canal Department. Memo, Lt Col Walton H. Walker, WPD, for Lt Col H. H. Brooks, 
OSW, 26 Nov 40, OPD Misc 48, Staff Con v. 

" From "Summary of Staff Conversations With American Republics, August-October 1940," 
quoted in Historical Section, Caribbean Defense Command, MS, Bi-lateral Staff Conversations 
With Latin American Republics (early draft copy), pp 5-7. All studies and unpublished Army 
historical monographs, unless otherwise indicated, are in the OCMH files. 



a form more or less similar to that included in the conferees' instructions, 
and all of them contained assurances that approximated in most particulars 
those sought by the United States, though in some instances in guarded and 
qualified terms. Despite such qualifications, the War and Navy Departments 
approved all of the agreements. Before the end of 1940 the Department of 
State also gave its formal political approval to all of them except that with 
Brazil, which was approved in revised form in April 1941. The Latin Ameri- 
can governments were slower in giving formal political approval to the staff 
agreements, only three of them doing so before the end of 1940. Irrespective 
of formal approvals, the staff agreements were generally honored after 1940 
by all of the nations concerned. In December 1940 the Army assured the 
Department of State that it believed the staff agreements had established "a 
satisfactory bilateral basis for the cooperation of the respective army forces . . . 
in every case," and it had no real reason to change that opinion during the 
following year. 

The War Depanment, though generally satisfied with the 1940 staff con- 
versations and agreements, believed further conversations necessary or at least 
desirable in several instances. Brazil's central importance in plans for hemi- 
sphere defense resulted in the continuation of military conversations in one 
form or another throughout 1941. Mexico's contiguity likewise called for 
frequent consultations from February 1S)41 onward. Army attempts to reopen 
military conversations with other nations were less successful before the entry 
of the United States into the war, principally because the Army found itself 
virtually unable to do anything about furnishing them with arms. This cir- 
cumstance led the American ambassadors in several nations to recommend 
against further military conversations until the United States was in a posi- 
tion to offer concrete help toward local external and internal defense. Since 
in most instances the Army's chief concern was to maintain the interest in 
defense problems that had already been engendered, it did not press a general 
renewal of conversations until after Pearl Harbor.^' 

Only Argentina among the American republics rebuffed United States 
overtures of military co-operation during 1940 and 1941. Argentina, as the 
most powerful of the Spanish-speaking South American countries, had long 
aspired to leadership among them. In years past it had contested leadership 
in the Pan-American movement, and now it resisted the efforts of the United 

Ltr, SW to Secy State, 28 Dec 40, WPD 4115-44. An inclosure to this letter summarized 
the history and current status of the military conversations and agreements with each of the Latin 
American republics. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Dec 40, WPD 4115-43; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 28 Dec 40, WPD 
4115-44. For examples on the problem of whether or not it would be wise to renew conversa- 
tions with Chile and Venezuela, see papers in WPD 4228 and WPD 4}6l. 



States to weld a common front of New World solidarity. Geographic, eco- 
nomic, and cultural factors, rather than pro- Axis sympathies, governed Argen- 
tine attitudes during the war. Argentina's economic and cultural ties were 
with Europe, and if Germany won they would still have to be with Europe. 
Furthermore, the Argentineans believed that they must dominate the de- 
fenses of the La Plata region. When United States Army and Navy officers 
conferred separately with Paraguay and Uruguay during 1940, and particu- 
larly when the United States showed an interest in the construction of naval 
and air bases in Uruguay, Argentina objected. It countered with efforts to 
construct a bloc of South American states (including Chile, Peru, and Brazil) 
that would work for its own common defense, but that would also resist 
United States leadership in hemisphere defense and maintain neutrality to- 
ward the war. Argentine policy and plans thus conflicted rather sharply with 
United States plans for close military collaboration with Brazil and for the 
military support, if necessary, of the other nations concerned, especially 

Since Army plans for hemisphere defense never contemplated major oper- 
ations below the Brazilian bulge, Argentina's recalcitrance was of more imme- 
diate concern to the Navy, which wanted the co-operation of the Argentine 
Navy in patrolling the South Atlantic. Only a Navy spokesman visited Buenos 
Aires in June 1940 during the preliminary round of conversations, and he 
found the Argentineans very reluctant to agree to any common defense meas- 
ures. Representatives of both the Army and the Navy went to Buenos Aires 
in September and October, and although the conversations were friendly 
enough they discovered that their Argentine counterparts were unwilling to 
commit their country to anything unless and until the United States and 
Argentina made a political agreement delineating their respective roles in 
hemisphere defense and prescribing the economic and military advantages 
that would be forthcoming for Argentina in return for its co-operation. 
From November 1940 onward the War Department favored a renewal of 
military conversations at Buenos Aires, but it deferred to the Navy's judg- 
ment because of the latter's primary interest. In July 1941 Argentina finally 
decided to send a staff mission to Washington; but it did not arrive until 
after Pearl Harbor, and then it accomplished nothing because Argentina re- 
fused to break with the Axis Powers or check Axis activity within its borders. 
Although Argentina's refusal of military collaboration had little effect on 
Army defense plans during the prewar period, its opposition on a broader 

"> Various papers in WPD 4374, especially reports of 15 Jan and 26 Nov 4l; SLC Min, Vol. 
II, Items 28 and 29, 7 and 10 Jun 41; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 154-56. 



front had been a serious matter that was only to be resolved with reasonable 
success at the Foreign Ministers Conference in Rio de Janeiro in January 

In considering the question of reopening military conversations with 
Argentina during the summer of 1941, the War Plans Division laid down 
five basic principles that were equally applicable in negotiations with other 
American republics: 

(1) That we are determined to oppose the extension to this hemisphere of Axis polit- 
ical, economic or military influence, and that we are determined to defend this hemisphere 
against all external aggression. 

(2) That we will conduct this defense with or without the help of the Argentine 

(3) That we should very much like Argentine cooperation. 

(4) That we have no territorial ambitions toward any foreign government. 

(5) That if the Argentine Government desires to extend military cooperation, we have 
certain definite proposals to make, which, in view of the history of recent Axis opera- 
tions, should be made operative at once and not made contingent upon decisions of delib- 
erative bodies called together after Axis aggression becomes a fact." 

The major purpose of the staff conversations and agreements with Latin 
America had been to achieve point five, and in negotiations toward this end 
the Army and Navy managed before Pearl Harbor to keep within the bounds 
of prewar political policy. This was the key to the success of their negotia- 
tions. But the United States had also to be prepared to act, and its war plans 
during 1940 and 1941 provided for the dispatch of sizable expeditionary 
forces to either or both coasts of South America, if necessary to protect it 
against major external attack." Though plans for expeditionary forces were 
not discussed in the staff conversations, the Latin American republics un- 
doubtedly were aware of American intentions and understood that the staff 
agreements of 1940 were designed primarily to facilitate the execution of 
American military plans. For its part, the War Department believed that the 
staff agreements did assure Latin American military co-operation should a 
real emergency arise. 

Other Measures To Improve Military Relations 

Meanwhile, in the summer of 1940, the War Department prepared to 
carry out some of the other measures that had been proposed more than two 

Memo, Capt William O. Spears, USN, forCNO, 17 Jul 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; Memo, 
Lt Col Robert L. Christian for ACofS WPD, 28 Oct 40, and other papers, WPD 4374-1; various 
papers, dated 12 Jul-2l Dec 41, WPD 4374-8, WPD 4374-14, and WPD 4374-20. 

" Me mo, Col Ridgway for ACofS WPD, 10 Jul 41, WPD 4374-8. 

" See |p. 1871 below, and also Chs.[T][ni and|lVl. above. 



years earlier for improving military relations with Latin America— increasing 
the number of Army officers stationed in Latin America, inviting high- 
ranking Latin American officers to visit the United States, and arranging for 
more Latin American officers to attend Army service schools. Since these 
measures would cost money that the War Department could not pay out of 
its regular appropriation, President Roosevelt, at the Army's initiative, on 
22 June approved the allocation from his recently voted Emergency Fund of 
$500,000 to the War Department and $300,000 to the Navy Department for 
use at the departments' discretion in improving military contacts with Latin 
America.*'' The War Department earmarked four fifths of its allocation for 
new military missions to Latin America and visits by Latin American officers 
to the United States and alloted the remainder to confidential military 
intelligence activities." 

Since 1938 the number of military missions in Latin America had grown 
from two to seven, and in July 1940 a total of twenty-four officers were as- 
signed to them. The Army's new goal was to establish military missions in 
most if not all of the Latin American nations and to enlarge the missions 
already established. Because many nations could not affi5rd to pay for such 
missions, G-2 wanted them all paid for by the United States and not by the 
receiving nations. This seemingly minor question of payment was in reality 
a thorny problem. Wide differences in pay scales and in living costs between 
the United States and Latin America, as well as among the Latin American 
countries themselves, made it very difficult in practice to send officers to 
them. The Joint Board finally approved a policy for United States military 
mission members under which they were to receive normal pay and allow- 
ances for their grades from both the recipient nation and the United States. 
Because of lower Latin American pay scales, this meant in effiect that the 
United States Army thereafter bore the bulk of the expense for maintaining 
military missions, though not all of it as G-2 had recommended. Nor was 
G-2 able to carry out in full its plan for doubling the number of officers on 
military missions in Latin America. At the beginning of December 1941 the 
number of Army missions had increased to twelve, but only thirty-two offi- 
cers were assigned to them.'^ A more significant increase occurred in the 
number of military attaches assigned to Latin American posts. Their number 

Ltf, Under Secy State to President, 21 Jun 40; Ltr, Under Secy State to CofS, 24 Jun 40. 
Both in AG 380 (5-24-40). Notations on the copy of the former in OCS 20357-12 show that 
it was drafted and circulated by the Office of the Chief of Staff. 
" Memo, G-2 for CofS, 1 Aug 40, AG 380 (5-24-40). 

" Memo, G-2 for WPD, 1 Jul 40, WPD 4115-23; Memo, G-2 for CofS, 8 Jul 40; Memo 
JB for SW, 14 Nov 40 (ref JB 354, ser 654, 13 Nov 40) ; Ltr, SW and SN to President, 29 Nov 
40. Last three in AG 380 (5-24-40). Memo, JPC for JB, 5 Dec 41, WPD 41 15-66. 



nearly trebled between June 1940 and December 1941, and by then the Army 
was represented by attaches or missions in all of the Latin American capitals. 

The circumstances of mid-lS)40 led the Military Intelligence Division to 
believe that one of the most fruitful moves toward a better military under- 
standing with the Latin American nations would be to invite groups of their 
senior officers to visit the United States so that they could see the extent of 
its military preparations. This proposal took shape in General Marshall's 
invitation to the chief of staff or ranking Army commander of each of the 
Latin American countries to visit the United States as his guest. In response, 
two groups of about twenty officers each came to the United States for two- 
week tours in October 1940. After visiting military establishments they were 
entertained by General Marshall and his staff in Washington. More than half 
of the ranking military commanders of Latin America came to the United 
States on these visits, which provided an unprecedented opportunity for 
establishing a personal acquaintance between United States and Latin Ameri- 
can military leaders. The Brazilian Chief of Staff, who had exchanged visits 
with General Marshall the year before, availed himself of this opportunity 
to discuss and conclude the Brazilian-American staff agreement of 29 Octo- 
ber 1940, but the other visitors generally refrained during their visits from 
trying to discuss hemisphere defense plans or their own defense needs. Sub- 
sequent reports from Latin America attested the value of this sort of an 
approach to mutual understanding in military relations.'^ 

In July 1940 the Military Intelligence Division renewed its earlier pro- 
posal to increase the number of Latin American junior officers in attendance 
at United States Army service schools. Twenty-nine officers from eight coun- 
tries were in attendance at their own governments' expense in the summer of 
1940, a number that declined to eighteen by the time G-2 prepared a new 
student training plan in December. In its July proposal G-2 had frankly 
recognized the difficulties in receiving students when it advised: 

Language presents a great barrier. Our ways are not their ways. A Latin American offi- 
cer in an American training camp would find none of the pleasures ot life that he would 
enjoy in his own or in a European garrison town. . . . Unless foreign officers are se- 
lected who can overcome these disadvantages, the net result is likely to be actually detri- 
mental to mutual understanding.'" 

Although G-3 believed that a good many more Latin American students 
could be accommodated, G-2 recommended seventy-five as the maximum 

" Memo, G-2 for CofS, 8 Jul 40, AG 380 (5-24-40); various memos, WPD 4115-37; lists 
of the two visiting groups, WPD 4115-44; Notes on SLC mtg, 8 Nov 40, SLC Min. Vol. I, 
Item 63. A report of 9 October 1941, in WPD 4385-15, is typical of the testimony on the value 
of these visits. 

" Memo, G-2 for CofS, 8 Jul 40, AG 380 ( 5-24-40) . 



number that should be invited at any one time. It was finally decided to in- 
vite groups of forty or fifty officers for six months' training with the ground 
arms and, after 1 January 1S>41, to have the United States Army pay the 
traveling and training expenses of all the student officers. The newly invited 
officers were to spend three months in schools and then three months with 
troop units of the school's arm. Two groups came to the United States during 
1941, The Department of State was well pleased with the results of the training 
program. In response to its urging, invitations went out in the spring of 1942 
to all of the American republics to send students for a third training program, 
to be inaugurated about 1 June 1S>42." 

Collectively, these several measures helped to promote closer inter- 
American military relations. What probably most impressed Latin American 
military men, and influenced them most in favor of co-operation in hemis- 
phere defense, was the rapid growth and modernization of the armed forces 
of the United States during late 1S>40 and 1941, coupled with the repeatedly 
expressed intention of the United States Government to defend the Western 
Hemisphere against any external aggression. By the beginning of 1941 
America's strength and determination were overcoming the effect of Hitler's 
smashing victories of 1939 and 1S>40.'*" 

Planning for the Support of Friendly Governments 

On 7 January 1941, after returning from a South American trip. President 
William S. Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System reported to President 
Roosevelt, "Latin Americans on the whole now have a friendly feeling to- 
ward the United States," and, "our Good Neighbor Policy has, in the main, 
destroyed the specters of 'Yankee Imperialism' and 'Dollar Diplomacy.'" 
But Mr. Paley also observed that there were inherent dangers in the Latin 
American situation that had to be taken into account. He reported that 
everywhere in Latin America the Nazis were well organized and well financed 
and they posed ?, threat that the Latin Americans themselves were inclined 
to minimize. In addition, the loss of normal European markets had subjected 
most Latin American countries to serious economic strain, and economic 

" Memo, G-2 for CofS, 4 Dec 40, AG 380 (5-24-40); Ltr, Under Secy State to CofS, 21 Mar 
42, and other papers, WDCSA 336 (3-21-42). Aside from this general training program for 
Latin American officers, during the war the Army gave special training to ground officers of the 
Brazilian Expeditionary Force and to the air squadrons of Brazil and Mexico that subsequently 
served in Italy and the Philippines, respectively. After 1942 the Army also conducted an extensive 
training program in Panama for Latin American officers and enlisted specialists. 

Memo, G-2 for CofS, 1 Nov 40, WPD 3807-64; Memo, WPD for CofS, 24 Jan 41, WPD 



distress was a major factor in the political instability of many of them, espe- 
cially of those in Central and northern South America. Although pro-Axis 
sentiment was not strong enough anywhere to command wide popular sup- 
port, the economic and political instability of a number of these nations ap- 
peared to threaten Nazi-inspired revolutions that might lead to the installation 
of governments unfriendly to the United States. As Mr. Paley put it, "it is 
the judgment of some well qualified observers that a well planned revolution 
backed by not very many well aimed guns and a few airplanes can succeed 
in some of the weaker Latin American countries, countries which, unfortu- 
nately from our standpoint, are near the Canal Zone." 

In July 1940 the foreign ministers at Havana had agreed that if the peace 
of any Latin American state were menaced by Axis activities, the American 
republics should immediately consult among themselves to determine how 
to deal with the situation, provided the interested state requested consulta- 
tion. In the subsequent staff agreements, the United States had pledged that, 
when asked for, its armed forces would come to the aid of any recognized 
government threatened by an external attack or an internal fifth-column 
movement supported by a non-American state. Because of the military weak- 
ness of Latin America, the United States had assumed that it would have to 
use its own forces to deal with any imminent threat or actuality of a major 
external attack and that the Larin American states would co-operate (as pro- 
vided for in the staff agreements) by opening to these forces their land, air, 
and naval bases. For this purpose American war plans during late 1940 and 
1941 earmarked the Army's best-trained division for emergency use in Brazil 
or elsewhere in the southern Atlantic area and provided, in the general stra- 
tegic reserve, for one reinforced division to be sent to the west coast of South 
America and for a three-division corps to be available for dispatch to eastern 
South America, as needed to protect those areas from overseas attack.''^ In 
January 1941 the Army and Navy began to plan for the other phase of the 
pledge of armed support— military assistance to help avert internal Axis- 
inspired revolutionary movements. 

The Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, Lt. Gen. Daniel 
Van Voorhis, first suggested plans of the latter sort in August 1940. Point- 

Memo, Paley for President, 7 Jan 41; Ltr, Under Secy State to President, 17 Mar 41. Both 
in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. In the latcer, Mr. Welles described Mr. Paley's observations as "ex- 
ceedingly sound." On the general situation in Latin America at this time, see Memo, G-2 for 
WPD, 20 Dec 40, sub: Estimated Stability of American Republics and Their Respeaive Attitudes 
Towards Hemisphere Defense, VKPD 4244-26. 

*' Memo, Col McNarney for Gen Gerow, WPD, 19 Dec 40, OPD Exec 4, Item 5; Synopses 
of Rainbow 4, 5, and Expeditionary Force Plans, Incls to Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 May 41, 
WPD J49J-11. 



ing out how much easier it would be to help maintain a friendly govern- 
ment in power than to oust a pro-Axis government once it were established, 
General Van Voorhis expressed the opinion that a few hundred infantrymen 
and a battery of pack howitzers transported by air from the Canal Zone 
could probably handle the first of these situations in nearby countries at least 
until additional forces could be dispatched from the continental United 
States. The drafting of such plans seems to have been precipitated by Nazi 
activity in Colombia rather than the Panama commander's earlier proposal. 
On 15 January 1941, the Chief of Staff, at the urging of the War Plans Di- 
vision, asked the Joint Board to develop a plan for the effective support of 
Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and the five Central American republics, pro- 
viding for the stationing on forty-eight hours' notice in seaports and strategic 
interior points of United States forces dispatched from the Canal Zone and 
for their reinforcement, if necessary, by an Army expeditionary force from 
the United States.*^ 

The Joint Board's plan, approved by President Roosevelt on 29 April 
1941, acknowledged the protection of the Panama Canal as its primary pur- 
pose, but it also emphasized the importance of preventing any Nazi success 
of a sort that would be bound to influence the whole of Latin America. The 
joint plan assumed that the assistance of United States forces would be re- 
quested by a recognized government while it was still in control of the sit- 
uation, that the forces would not encounter organized opposition on their 
arrival, and that not more than one such operation would have to be under- 
taken at a time among the eight republics for which detailed plans were to 
be drafted. On 20 May the War Department instructed General Van Voorhis, 
in his capacity of Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command, to 
draft separate Army plans for each country in collaboration with the Com- 
mandant, 15th Naval District, who would prepare the corresponding Navy 
plans. Any operation undertaken jointly was to be co-ordinated by mutual 
co-operation, and no operations were to commence until expressly ordered 
by the War and Navy Departments.''* 

The initial plans of the Washington authorities and of the Caribbean 
commander contemplated transporting an airborne infantry battalion pre- 
ceded by a platoon of parachute troops from the Canal Zone to the capital 

Statement of Gen Van Voorhis to Lt Col Norman R. and Maj Machewson, 14 Aug 40, WPD 
4J79-2; Memo, Col Ridgway for Aag ACofS WPD, 21 Aug 40, WPD 4115-33; Memo, Col 
McNarney for ACofS WPD, 31 Dec 40, WPD 4379-2; Memo, WPD forCofS, 13 Jan 41, and other 
papers, AG 380 ( 1-13-41 ). 

JB 325, ser 676, 1 5 Mar 41, and other papers, AG 380 ( 1-13-4 1) ; Ltr, TAG to CG CDC, 20 
May 41, AG 380 (5-8-41); Historical Section, Caribbean Defense Command, MS, War Plans and 
Defense, Caribbean Defense Command, Annex 3. 



of the country concerned, while naval forces from the Canal Zone, including 
a small Marine contingent, were to enter strategic seaports. In May the War 
Department decided that the plans needed a full parachute battalion. General 
Van Voorhis activated the 550th Infantry Airborne Battalion on 1 July 1S>41, 
filling it with volunteers from combat units already in Panama. In August 
the 501st Parachute Battalion arrived in the Canal Zone from Fort Benning, 
Georgia. Both battalions participated in a mock operation at the Rio Hato 
airfield on 12 September 1941, in the presence of General Arnold, Chief of 
the Army Air Forces. Two weeks later the airborne units were put under the 
Caribbean Air Force to facilitate their training and readiness.*^ 

The principal difficulty that General Van Voorhis encountered in pre- 
paring his plans was the lack of adequate air transport on hand or in pros- 
pect to carry all of the airborne and parachute troops in a single movement. 
Even if the War Department had been able to furnish him with enough 
planes, none of the landing fields in the capitals of the various countries 
could have handled the number of planes required to transport all of the 
Army's troops together. In their final form, each of the seven plans approved 
by the War Department proposed the initial movement of about three 
hundred troops by air and of about the same number by sea. Air transports 
would then shuttle troops and supplies into the capital and other strategic 
points as rapidly as possible after the first landing. Until more transport 
planes could be furnished to the 20th Transport Squadron in Panama, most 
of the troops in the initial movement would have to be transported in heavy 
and medium bombers, and General Van Voorhis reluctantly allocated half of 
his B-17 and B-18 strength for this purpose. The execution of any of these 
plans would temporarily have cut heavily into the air protection of the Canal 
and would have virtually stripped it of its scanty local naval protection.*^ 

Each plan contained a draft letter of instructions to the Commanding 
Officer of Troops stating that he was to act directly under the authority of 
the president of the country concerned and on his own responsibility rather 
than under the auspices of local American diplomatic and military repre- 
sentatives. Immediately upon arrival, he was to call upon the president and 

Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 6 Feb 41, AG 380 (1-13-41); Memo, WPD for CoPS, 10 May 41, 
WPD 3558-18; U.S. Air Force Hist Study 42, Air Def of the Panama Canal, 1 January 1939-7 De- 
cember 1941, Air University, Maxwell Field, Alabama, pp. 189-90. 

On the problem of air transportation, see various papers, dated March-August 1941, WPD 
4413, WPD 4452-8, and AG 380 (1-13-41). Copies of each of the seven plans prepared are in 
OPD Misc 25-31. Because of Colombia's size and geographical complexity, two separate plans were 
drafted (but apparently never formally approved) to cover possible operations in that country. 
Memos, Maj Edward H. McDaniel for Gen Gerow, WPD, 18 Sep and 7 Oct 41, WPD 4413-4 and 
WPD 44 13-7, contain briefs of the Ecuador and Guatemala plans, which were typical. 



thereafter comply with all reasonable requests made by him for support. The 
commander was also to ask the president to proclaim the fact that United 
States troops were present at his request, that they were only taking actions 
that were directed by him, and that all citizens should therefore comply with 
orders received from United States military and naval personnel.*^ 

During the preparation of the plans, the Caribbean commander sent offi- 
cers into the various countries to collect information and establish liaison 
with United States diplomatic representatives and military attaches. General 
Van Voorhis had discretionary authority to inform them of as much of the 
details of his planning as he thought desirable. Under his supervision the 
attaches prepared auxiliary plans for billeting United States forces and pro- 
viding them with hospital facilities, local supplies, ground transportation, 
and other types of assistance. In October 1S)41 the Caribbean commander 
assembled all of the attaches in the Canal Zone to acquaint them with the 
details of his planning. More or less unanimously they criticized the plans 
that had been drafted as unrealistic, principally because of the assumption 
that no opposition would be encountered when the first troops landed. The 
Army planners in Washington recognized that the plans envisaged United 
States support only in anticipation of hostilities, rather than action after 
hostilities had commenced. They acknowledged that plans of a much wider 
scope would be required in the latter case, but no such plans (other than the 
provision for expeditionary forces in general war plans) were ever drafted.** 

In the summer of 1941 the possibility arose that a plan of the sort being 
developed by General Van Voorhis might have to be put into effect. An 
undeclared war broke out between Peru and Ecuador on 23 July over a 
century-old boundary dispute that had created a growing tension during the 
preceding months. The proffered mediation of the United States, Argentina, 
and Brazil had failed to avert hostilities. Because of Ecuador's military weak- 
ness and precarious stability, the War Department was most concerned over 
the situation there. It directed the Caribbean commander to give priority to 
Ecuador in his planning for the support of friendly governments, and the 
Ecuador plan, transmitted to Washington on 26 August, was the first to be 
completed by him."*^ Since further Department of State and G-2 investiga- 

Hist Sec. CDC, War Plans and Defense, CDC, Annex 3, pp. 10-1 1. 

" Lt, CG CDC to TAG, 20 Sep 41, and inds, AG 380 (1-13-41); Memo, WPD for G-2, 29 
Nov 41, WPD 4413-10. 

*•> Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen GerowandCol Bundy, WPD, 28 Jul 41, WPD 4225-15; Notes 
on War Council mtg, 28 Jul 4 1, SW Conf Binder 1 ; Ltr, TAG to CG CDC, 2 Aug 4 1 , AG 380 ( 1- 
13-41); Ltr and Incl, CG CDC to TAG, 26 Aug 41, WPD 4113-4. 



tions indicated there was no real evidence of Axis exploitation of the Ecuador- 
Peru conflict, there was never any serious danger that the plan would have 
to be invoked. Instead, the War and State Departments arranged to send 
small teams of Army observers to both Ecuador and Peru, not only to ob- 
serve but also to help persuade the forces of each country to stop fighting. 
Only desultory armed action occurred after August, and as a result of measures 
taken during the Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers the two 
countries negotiated an agreement on 29 January 1942 that put a temporary 
end to the dispute— the only significant armed clash among the American 
nations themselves during the period of World War II. *° 

The Organization of Military Relationships, 1941-42 

In August 1941 the Navy War Plans Division proposed a new plan for 
handling military matters with Latin American nations in a more or less uni- 
form manner. The Navy planners pointed out that the principal fault of the 
existing staff agreements was that they provided for using Latin American 
base facilities and for collaboration in operations only when a Latin American 
state specifically asked for the assistance of United States forces. What the 
United States needed was assurance that such facilities would become avail- 
able to its forces automatically in case of a non-American attack on the 
Western Hemisphere. With the increasing likelihood that the United States 
might become an active belligerent in the war, it also needed revised agree- 
ments to govern the situation that would exist should that happen and the 
particular Latin American state concerned either remain a neutral or likewise 
become a belligerent. To co-ordinate joint United States-Latin American op- 
erations that might occur in the latter situation, the Navy advocated the 
general establishment of joint Army and Navy missions in Latin America 
and urged their establishment immediately so that there would be an easy 
transition to their wartime task of co-ordinating all aspects of military 

The Navy planners held that general Latin American adherence to the 
Declaration of Uruguay was the best practical solution in case the United 
States declared war and the other American republics failed to do so and also 
failed to ask for its protection against non- American aggression. On 19 June 

'0 Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen Getow, WPD, 12 Aug 41, WPD 4115-5}; Ltt, SW to Secy 
State, 13 Ctct 41, OCS 15484-54; Memo, G-2 for WPD, 12 Feb 42, WPD 4115-5}. 

" Navy WPD study, in form of Memo, JPC to JB, transmitted to Army WPD in late Aug 41, 
OPD Misc 49. 



1941 Uruguay had reaffirmed a declaration originally made during World 
War I, stating: 

That no American country, which in defense of its own rights, should find itself in a 
state of war with nations of other continents, will be treated as a belligerent; and that 
existing decrees which may be in contravention to this resolution shall be null and of no 

By way of clarification, Uruguay in 1917 had assured the United States that 
"all ships of the American Navy, of any kind whatsoever, may now and 
henceforth visit the ports of Uruguay, for any purpose whatsoever, where 
they will be received as friend, and not as belligerent, and without restric- 

After Uruguay's reiteration of these principles in June 1S)41, several other 
Latin American nations followed suit, and none expressed opposition to 
them. Universal and unqualified acceptance of these principles would have 
opened Latin American base facilities to Navy craft of all sorts if an Old 
World power attacked the United States. But it would not similarly open 
Latin American bases to Army air and ground forces, and the immediate ap- 
plication of airpower had now become crucial to effective hemisphere de- 
fense. The Army needed revised staff agreements to cover not only the 
projection of airpower in an emergency but also the provision in advance 
of prepared airfields stocked with gasoline, bombs, and machine gun am- 
munition. It therefore rejected the Declaration of Uruguay as an alternative 
to the renegotiation of existing agreements.^* 

The Army planners also contended that a uniform method of representa- 
tion and military negotiation was not applicable to Latin America, though 
they agreed that joint Army-Navy missions to certain countries might be 
desirable. They insisted that in any new staff agreements there should be 
provision for United States security forces to guard the air and naval bases 
being constructed with United States funds. Army and Navy planning offi- 
cers collaborated in producing a revised draft of the Navy's original proposals 
that took these objections into account and completed it just before Pearl 
Harbor. When Rear Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, the head of the Navy 
War Plans Division, rejected this draft and insisted on a new one calling 
for the establishment of joint Army and Navy missions in all or most of the 
Latin American countries. General Gerow in turn rejected that. By this time 

" Tab A, Memo, WPD for CofS, 19 Sep 41, WPD 4346-7. 
» Ibid. 

Navy draft cited in lfootnote 51.l above; Memo, Jt Policy and Plans Sec for Lat Amer Sec WPD, 
9 Sep 41, OPD Misc 49; Memo, G-2 for WP D. 16 S ep 41. WPD 4374-1 1; Memo for File, 27 Nov 
41, and other papers, WPD 4346-7. See also lCh. Xj below. 



the United States was in the war, and both the Army and the Navy turned 
to Department of State channels as the quickest way to secure permission 
from individual nations for the entry of United States forces and the rapid 
development of new base facilities.^^ 

Three days after the United States entered the war, Secretary of State Hull 
asked for a new foreign ministers meeting to be assembled in Rio de Janeiro 
during January. Under Secretary of State Welles prepared to represent the 
United States at the conference, scheduled to convene on 15 January, and the 
Department of State on 27 December provided the Army with a copy of its 
proposed agenda. General Marshall and Admiral Stark used the Standing 
Liaison Committee meeting of 3 January as the means to inform Mr. Welles 
about the objectives the War and Navy Departments wished the Depart- 
ment of State to seek at Rio. The Chief of StafPs statement called for: 

a. Declaration of war by all the American Republics upon all members of the Axis. 
h. Failing this, the severance of diplomatic relations with all of the Axis Powers. 

c. Agreement to permit the movement of United States air power into or across the 
territory of each of the American Republics, advance notice to be given where practicable, 
but this not to be an imperative requirement. 

d. Agreement by each of the American Republics which has not already so agreed to 
permit the entrance into or across their territory and the stationing therein of the essential 
base, maintenance, communications and weather detachments, together with their own 
equipment and local security elements essential for the logistical support of our operating 

e. Agreement by each of the American Republics to grant to such United States forces 
as enter or cross its territory in accordance with agreements referred to above, and in the 
course of operations in the defense of this hemisphere, the use of all facilities which such 
forces may require. . . ?^ 

On the first two points, the Navy position was identical with that of the 
Army. In its list of particulars the Navy asked for definite assurances from 
the Latin Americans of their naval collaboration in protecting their own 
waters and of the unrestricted use of their port facilities for United States 
naval operations; it asked also for definite commitments from them "to enter 
into military agreements to effectuate the necessary mutual defense arrange- 
ments," joint operating plans being more or less essential from the Navy's 
point of view though not from the Army's. Mr. Welles promised to do what 
he could to attain Army and Navy objectives, aside from attempting to per- 
suade all of the Latin American nations to join in the war as belligerents, 
which he termed impossible; his objective, he indicated, was a universal 
severance of diplomatic relations.^' 

" Various papers, dated 19 Nov-13 Dec 41, WPD 41 15-66, WPD 4115-67, and WPD 4115-70; 
the final Navy draft of this proposed joint paper, dated 5 Dec 41, is in WPD 411 5-66. 

" Notes prepared by the CofS to be used at the SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 44. 
" Dept of State notes on SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol, II, Item 42. 



The Department of State's own plan for action along military lines at 
Rio proposed, first, the invocation of the declaration adopted at the Havana 
conference of July 1S>40, entitled Reciprocal Assistance and Cooperation for 
the Defense of the Nations of the Americas; second, the establishment of an 
inter-American defense board to consist of military and naval representatives 
from each of the American republics and to meet in Washington "for the 
purpose of defining and coordinating essential defensive and protective meas- 
ures"; and, third, the establishment of "regional" defense boards, similar to 
the existing joint defense board of the United States and Canada and the 
projected joint defense commission of the United States and Mexico. The 
War and Navy Departments objected very strenuously to the creation of an 
inter- American defense board of the sort proposed by the Department of 
State, and Secretaries Stimson and Knox, after a Cabinet meeting on 2 Janu- 
ary, thought they had secured President Roosevelt's concurrence with their 
effort to kill the proposal; but before Mr. Welles left for Rio he managed to 
persuade the President that it should be restored to the agenda. The War 
Department was also generally opposed to the creation of additional defense 
commissions. Instead, the Army wanted to invoke the staff agreements of 
1940 and revise and extend them as necessary in bilateral negotiations.'* 
"Bi-lateral agreements," General Marshall and his advisers held, "are the 
best means of obtaining such cooperation as is not yet in effect. Bi-latcral 
agreements which already exist are reasonably satisfactory if arrangements 
are made to put them into effect without delay when the need arises." '* 

Although opposing the Department of State's proposal for an inter- 
American defense board, the Army and the Navy recognized the need for 
some sort of high-level co-ordination in Western Hemisphere military affairs. 
Representatives of the services and of the other government agencies most 
interested in Latin America met on the first day of the new year "to discuss 
and decide on a proposal that the President appoint either an Army or a 
Navy officer of high rank and great prestige as an expert consultant on mil- 
itary matters to whom the representatives of the other American Republics 
would be invited to go to discuss measures of military cooperation which 
their respective governments could take against the Axis." The conferees 
decided to recommend to the President that cither Admiral William H. 
Standley or Maj. Gen. Frank R. McCoy be appointed to this position. It was 
assumed that the expert consultant might serve as an executive chairman to 

'» Various papers, dated 27 Dec 41-9 Jan 42, WPD 41 15-74; Notes on SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC 
Min, Vol. II, Items 42 and 44. 

" Notes prepared by the CofS to be used at the SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 44. 
«» Memo, CofS for SW, 3 Jan 42, WPD 4 1 1 5-74. 



an inter- American board somewhat similar to the one proposed by the De- 
partment of State, but Secretary Stimson's adamant opposition to any board 
led the Chief of Staff and his planners to propose, on 6 January, the appoint- 
ment of both General McCoy and Admiral Standley as expert military con- 
sultants, "for the purpose of conferring bi-laterally, with the representatives 
of such of the American republics as may choose to do so, on matters of 
mutual concern in the defense of this Hemisphere." ®^ This proposal fell by 
the wayside when Mr. Welles succeeded in regaining the President's suppon 
for the inter-American defense board plan. 

General Marshall continued to be greatly concerned over the unsatis- 
factory character of the Army's Latin American relationships. After discussion 
with his principal subordinates and also with the President, he tentatively 
decided on 15 January to create a new War Department agency, to be inde- 
pendent of both the War Plans Division and of G-2, that could "act posi- 
tively in leading South America toward an adoption of and adherence to per- 
tinent policies of the United States War Department." ®^ The Chief of Staff 
selected his Latin American planning expert. General Ridgway, to head the 
new agency. Apparently, General Marshall intended the proposed organiza- 
tion to act both as a supermilitary intelligence organization for Latin Amer- 
ica, for the better co-ordination and direction of intelligence activities in the 
field, and as an agency in Washington that would give the War Department 
a more powerful voice with the President and among the various govern- 
ment bureaus concerned with Latin America in the determination of Latin 
American military policy. General Ridgway's own arguments appear to have 
persuaded the Chief of Staff of the futility of this scheme. Any agency such 
as that proposed would be foredoomed to failure, General Ridgway con- 
tended, even if it began operations with a clear directive from the President, 
since it would necessarily have to encroach upon the functions of existing 
agencies and would therefore arouse their resentment and opposition. It 
seemed to General Ridgway that in essence General Marshall was proposing 
"to remedy an unsatisfactory and ineffective execution of assigned functions" 
by existing agencies through the creation of a new agency. Instead, he urged: 

(1) A reorientation of the collective mind of the State Department, to compel acceptance 
of the fact that military factors are now primary and all others ancillary. 

(2) A reorganization of G-2 functions and methods to bring about the highest possible 
degree of efficiency. 

(3) Broadening of the functions of the War Plans Division to provide for the necessary 
preparation and presentation of the military factors, affecting our military policies, and an 

" Draft Ltr, SW to President, 6 Jan 42, WPD 41 15-74. 

" Memo, Gen Eisenhower for Gen Ridgway, WPD, 16 Jan 42, WPD 41 15-84; Report of G-2 
GHQ, 15 Jan 42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2. 



increase in the authoriry of the Division to insure that its recommendations receive the 
fullest consideration, and whenever necessary by the President, in order to guarantee that 
no decisions of political nature contrary to these recommendations are maac without ref- 
erence to the President himself." 

These objectives were achieved in part through the reorganization of the 
War Department in March 1942 and through the new Joint Chiefs of Staff 
organization, which gave the services a stronger voice in determining military 
policy. The development of the war situation and of American planning for 
offensive overseas operations from January 1942 onward also tended increas- 
ingly to divert the Army's attention from Latin American military problems to 
more pressing matters, and the proposal to create a central War Department 
agency for co-ordinating Latin American military affairs was not to be revived 
and put into effect until the last year of the war.*'' 

In the weeks immediately following Pearl Harbor, when extensive mili- 
tary operations in Latin America loomed as a distinct possibility,*' it appeared 
that the Army might become more intimately involved in the work of several 
wartime agencies concerned with Latin American affairs. The most important 
of these was the Office of the Coordinator of Inter- American Affairs, headed 
by Nelson A. Rockefeller. This organization had been established by the 
President in August 1940, and the G-2 Division had maintained informal 
liaison with it since the beginning of 1941. Its most important activity until 
the summer, of 1941 was to combat German, Italian, and Japanese commer- 
cial and propaganda efforts in Latin America, and it was primarily responsible 
for compiling the so-called "blacklist" of Axis-controlled commission houses 
and agencies and in persuading American firms not to trade with them.** 
This function passed to the Department of State in July 1941, but at the 
same time an Executive order broadened the scope of the co-ordinator's 
responsibilities so that thereafter it included most aspects of Latin American 
relationships not directly under the control of the State, War, or Navy 

In early November 1941 Mr. Rockefeller's organization was proposing to 
undertake a $100,000,000 public works program in Latin America, which 
would include construction of housing, hospitals, sanitation and water 
supply systems, and transportation and communication facilities. So far as 

" Memo, Gen Ridgway for CofS, It Jan 42, WPD 41 15-84. 

^* See Cline, Washington Command Post, Ch. VI, and also pp. 3 18-19, on the escablishmenc and 
work of the Pan-American Gr oup, OPD . 
" Se j Ch. VIll above, and |Ch. X1I| below. 

" Memo, Lt Col Omar N. Bradley for Col Orlando Ward, OCS, 2 2 Jan 4 1 , OCS Conf Binder 8; 
Memo, Col Ridgway for ACofS WPD, 19 Apr 41, WPD 4487, 

History of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter- American Affairs (Washington: 1947). 



possible it wanted to center these construction activities at "strategic and 
focal points" so that they could be used by American military forces in an 
emergency. Mr. Rockefeller asked the Army to list the places where it thought 
facilities of this sort might be needed. General Headquarters and the 
Army Air Forces both expressed a desire that the work be concentrated in 
northeastern Brazil.** Though G-2 delivered these requests to the Office of 
the Coordinator, the War Plans Division confessed that it could not see 
"how any appreciable part of the development program within a particular 
country could be concentrated at the relatively few points in which the War 
Department has a definite potential interest without arousing suspicions that 
it is being done for military reasons." 

After the United States entered the war, Mr. Rockefeller revived this 
public works project in the more modest form in which it was eventually 
to be carried out during the war. On 8 January he conferred with General 
Marshall and his subordinates about his plans for spending $25,000,000 for 
sanitation and housing projects and again suggested that the War Depart- 
ment designate the strategic areas in which it wished such work undertaken. 
He also asked for and secured the services of Col. (later Maj. Gen.) George 
C. Dunham of the Medical Corps to head the project. Colonel Dunham was 
an expert on tropical medicine and had directed the Army medical survey of 
Brazil during late 1941 in connection with the work of the United States- 
Brazilian Joint Planning Group.'" In February 1942 President Roosevelt 
provided money for the project from his Emergency Fund, and at the end of 
March the Office of the Coordinator established a separate corporation, the 
Institute of Inter- American Affairs (directed by General Dunham throughout 
the war), to undertake sanitation and public health measures in Latin 

In the economic field, the Office of the Coordinator and the Board of 
Economic Warfare" joined hands during the winter of 1941-42 to bolster 
the economies of the Latin American countries as well as to insure that the 
Axis Powers did not get any vital raw materials from them. An Army officer 
headed the American Hemisphere Division of the Board of Economic War- 
fare, which directed the work, and the War Department had a hand in the 

" Memo, G-2 for WPD, 1} Nov 41; Memo, DCofS GHQ for WPD, 17 Nov 41; Memo, 
CofAAFforWPD, 17 Nov 41. All in WPD 4115-63. 
" Memo, WPD for G-2, 24 Nov 41, WPD 41 15-63. 

Various papers, dated 8-31 Jan 42, WPD 4115-82 and WPD 4115-83. See also, |Ch. XI, 

History of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Chs. X and XIX. 
Established as the Economic Defense Board in July 1941 and redesignated the Board of Eco- 
nomic Warfare on 17 December 1941. 



formulation of policy through Secretary Stimson's membership on the board. 
Of more direct concern to the Army was the gathering and dissemination of 
information in and about Latin America, over which the Office of the Co- 
ordinator had more or less exclusive jurisdiction. The Army undoubtedly 
would have come into conflict with Mr. Rockefeller's office in this field if 
it had carried out the January 1S)42 proposal for establishing a high-level 
agency for the purpose of influencing United States and Latin American 
opinion. The War Department's good relations with the Coordinator of 
Inter-American Affairs indicate its general satisfaction after early 1942 with 
the way nonmilitary matters were being handled with Latin America. In any 
event, as soon as it became clear that no large-scale Army expeditionary 
forces would have to help defend the territory of the Latin American nations 
against overseas attack, the various activities of the United States in the fields 
of public health, economic defense, and propaganda lost much of the imme- 
diate military significance they had seemed to have in the first weeks of direct 
American participation in the war. 

The Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers, held between 15 
and 28 January 1942, achieved solidarity of action toward the war marred 
only by the subsequent failure of Argentina and Chile to act on the recom- 
mendation to break diplomatic relations with the Axis Powers.'* Among 
the measures adopted at Rio was the Department of State's proposal for the 
establishment of an inter-American defense board. The objections the Army 
had initially raised to this proposal were numerous: it would be too large 
and unwieldy a body for effective action; Latin American military 
matters required immediate action, and the establishment of the board would 
be a time-consuming affair; it would not be possible to discuss secret plans 
before so large a body; the board's membership would lack authority to carry 
out its adopted measures; and the board would absorb the time of high-cali- 
ber men sorely needed for more pressing duties. Perhaps most of all, the War 
Department feared that the Latin Americans would try to use the board as 
a means for pressing their claims for United States munitions,^* Both before 
and after the Rio meeting. Under Secretary of State Welles assured the War 
and Navy Departments that the proposed board would not have any execu- 
tive functions or responsibilities in hemisphere defense and that its work 
need not interfere with the continued bilateral arrangement of military matters 

" Two articles by David H. Popper, in Foreign Policy Reports, 15 April and 15 May 1942, provide 
an excellent summary of the accomplishments of the Rio conference and of the position of Latin 
America toward the war in the spring of 1942. 

74 WPD Memo for Record, 27 Dec 41 ; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 2 Jan 42 and other papers. All 
in WPD 41 15-74. 



between the United States and its southern neighbors. To the Department of 
State, it was important from the political point of view to provide a channel 
through which all of the American republics, small and large, could voice 
their views and recommendations.^' The very existence of the board, the 
Department of State subsequently contended, served "to impress upon the 
nations of the inter-American community the unitary character of our de- 
fense problems" and thus contributed substantially to the fostering of a co- 
operative spirit among the American republics.^* 

The Army and Navy selected General Embick and Vice Adm. Alfred W. 
Johnson as their delegates on the Inter-American Defense Board, and General 
Embick served as its chairman through 1942 and 1943." The Army also 
provided the board with a secretariat of about twenty officers and with a 
co-ordinator, Maj. Gen. Blanton Winship, who had been Governor of Puerto 
Rico following his retirement from the Army in 1933. During the war most 
of the Latin American countries were represented on the board by their 
military, naval, and air attaches in Washington. The board held plenary 
sessions about twice a month, and by December 1943 it had adopted thirteen 
resolutions embodying recommendations and suggestions for improving the 
defenses of the Western Hemisphere.^* 

Secretary Stimson, Secretary Knox, and General Marshall spoke at the 
Inter-American Defense Board's first meeting on 30 March 1942, and their 
addresses combined warm words of welcome with admonitions that the United 
States could not hope to supply arms beyond its existing commitments to 
the Latin American nations for some time to come.^' Thereafter during 1942 
and 1943, the policy of the Army and Navy was to avoid the deliberation by 
the board of any topic that could be satisfactorily adjusted through bilateral 
negotiations. In consequence the work of the board was limited to military 
matters of only peripheral significance in the conduct of the war. Neverthe- 
less, General Embick was in agreement with Mr. Welles that the board 
served a useful purpose as a symbol of hemisphere solidarity in the prosecu- 
tion of the war, and continuance of the board through the war provided the 

" Remarks of Mr. Welles at SLC mtgs, 3 Jan and 10 Feb 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Items 42 and 46. 
Ltr, Secy State to SW, 26 Nov 43, OPD 334.8 Inter- Amer Def Bd. 

" General Embick and Admiral Johnson at the time of their appointment were serving in a 
similar capacity on the Joint United Stares- Mexican Defense Commission, and General Embick was 
also senior Army member of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, Canada-United States. 

'» On the board's initial organization, see various papers, dated 5 Feb-28 Mar 42, WPD 41 15-74 
and OPD 334.8 Inter-Amer Def Bd. The Inter- American Defense Board (Washington: 1943), a 
forty-one page pamphlet, describes the organization and work of the board up to December 1943. 

" Stimson Diary, entry of 30 Mar 42. The addresses are printed in The Inter-American Defense 
Board, pp. 24-29. 



American nations with a vehicle for maintaining a close military association 
in the postwar years.'" 

Military Assistance to Latin America in 1942 

The Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers in January 1942 
provided the impetus for certain concrete measures of military aid to the 
Latin American nations. After 7 December 1941 their pleas for modern arms 
and ammunition had poured into Washington, typical among them being 
Venezuela's request for sixteen 37-mm. antiaircraft guns and sixteen .50-caJiber 
antiaircraft machine guns for the defense of its oil installations. The Army 
could only answer this and similar requests by pointing out that the shortage 
of antiaircraft guns and ammunition was so critical that none could be sent 
to the Latin American nations." Nevertheless, it recognized that certain vital 
installations along the coasts of South America— such as the oil refineries of 
Venezuela and at Talara, Peru, and the copper refining plants along the 
Chilean coast— were highly vulnerable to surface and air attack. When General 
Miles, the chief of G-2, began an inspection trip on 17 December to Panama 
and around South America, one of his missions was to survey these installa- 
tions and recommend how they could best be protected. The War Depart- 
ment at this time did not believe that military necessity required it to put 
any of its own combat forces and equipment in any South American country 
except Brazil, but it was interested in having the countries do everything 
within their power to guard installations vital to the war effort.*^ Later, in 
consequence of promises made by the United States Government during the 
Rio conference, the Army was called upon to provide limited quantities of 
equipment and other assistance to protect key points along the South 
American coasts. 

While the crucial question of a universal severance of diplomatic rela- 
tions with the Axis Powers was still in the balance at Rio, President Roose- 
velt on 19 January telephoned General Marshall ancj asked him what 
munitions could be made immediately available to the South American 
nations, particularly to Brazil, to reassure them of the determination of the 

On the wartime policy toward the board, see Memos, OPD for IXx)fS, 23 and 24 Feb 43, and 
Notes on SLC mtg, 24 Feb 43. All in SLC Min, Vol. IV. Memo, OPD for Chairman, Inter-Amer 
Def Bd, 4 Mar 43; Ltr, SN to Secy State, 13 Mar 43; Memo, Navy Dept for Adm Johnson, 13Mar43. 
Last three in OPD 334.8 Inter-Amer Def Bd. 

" Memo, WPD for Ln Off, Dept of State, 18 Dec 4l, and other papers, WPD 4244-44. 

«2 Memo, WPD for Gen Miles, 16 Dec 41, WPD 4115-68; Memo, SGSforTAG, 17 Dec 41, 
CCS 20020-181 (Gen Miles's formal instructions). 



United States to guard the Americas against external attack. General Marshall 
obtained a list of one hundred fifty coast artillery guns and mortars of vary- 
ing calibers, all of which were then emplaced in coast defense positions 
around the continental United States. Since the United States had airpower 
and more modern coast defense guns available, these guns could be spared 
for installation around the coast of South America. The Army was prepared 
to sell them at a scrap value of $20.00 a ton. The Army planners estimated 
that it would take from two to eight months to dismantle, ship, and install 
the guns and believed that once emplaced they would furnish highly effective 
protection against attack by hostile surface vessels. The Chief of Staff informed 
the President that Brazil had already indicated that it did not want any of 
these guns, nor did Mexico or Peru, to whom they had also been offered. 
Mr. Roosevelt's offer of the same material to Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador, and 
Venezuela likewise failed to elicit any interest.*' What the South American 
nations wanted was modern equipment such as combat aircraft and antiair- 
craft guns. 

Further overtures by the President and the Department of State led to 
the Army's allocation on 21 and 22 January of a substantial amount of 
ground munitions to Brazil and Chile and of fifty advanced trainer airplanes, 
equipped for reconnaissance and bombardment activity, to be divided among 
all of the South American coastal nations except Argentina. The planes began 
to move southward during February. Those going to the Caribbean area and 
to the west coast of South America were flown by American crews and pro- 
vided with a three months' bomb supply.'*'* After further discussion between 
the President, Secretary Stimson, and General Marshall, and in accordance 
with recommendations made by General Miles, the War Department on 
26 January authorized Under Secretary of State Welles to offer some direct 
coast artillery assistance to Chile. This proposal broadened within the next 
few days into a plan for placing United States coast artillery batteries at key 
points in Chile, Peru, and Venezuela.*' 

" Memo for Record of Gen Marshall, 19 Jan 42, WPD 4224-217; Memo, CofS for President, 20 
Jan 42; Memo, President for CofS, 21 Jan 42. Last two in WPD 4244-45. Memo, Gen Ridgway for 
Mr. Laurence Duggan, Dept of State, 21 Jan 42, W PD 4228-28. 

On the allocations to Brazil, see |Chapter XII[ below; on the trainer airplanes, see Notes on Tel 
Conv, Gen Ridgway with Mr. Duggan, 21 Jan 42, WPD 4228-28; Notes on White House Conf, 28 
Jan 42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs ( 1-28-42) ; Memo, CofAAF for President, 29 Jan 42, and 
other papers, JAB 6-9 (OPD Misc 37). 

" Notes of SW after Cabinet mtg, 23 Jan 42, WPD 4115-87; Memo, Lt Col Henry A. Barber, Jr., 
for Gen Gerow, WPD, 26 Jan 42, WPD 4115-88; Draft of Rad, Dept of State to Amer delegation, 
Rio, 26 Jan 42, and annotations thereon, WPD 4228-30; Notes on White House Conf, 28 Jan 42, 
WDCSA 334, Mtgs and Confs ( 1-28-42). 



The coast artillery project called for the dispatch of the 56th Coast Anil- 
lery Regiment,** commanded by Col. William Sackville, to four key ports in 
Chile, one in Peru, and two in Venezuela, to protect them against shelling 
by submarines or surface raiders. The 56th was a 155-mm. mobile gun regi- 
ment of six batteries, currently in the process of deactivation but reassembled 
for this mission. General Miles recommended that its batteries be reinforced 
by antiaircraft guns, but none could be spared for the purpose. By 4 Febru- 
ary, when the Department of State officially informed the governments that 
they could have the assistance of the 56th if they wanted it, the project 
called for sending the regimental headquarters and four batteries to Chile 
(16 guns, accompanied by 62 officers and 1,267 enlisted men). The batteries 
were to be located in northern Chile at Tocopilla, Barquitos Island, San An- 
tonio, and Antofagasta, each of which had waterfront facilities essential to 
the production and export of copper and nitrates. Antofagasta was also an 
outlet for Bolivian tin. In Peru the battery offered was to be put at Talara, 
which had a large and exposed oil refinery— the only one producing aviation 
gasoline in western South America and the source of fuel oil for the Chilean 
copper industry. The battery for Venezuela was to be split between the oil 
ports of Las Piedras and Puerto de la Cruz. When sent, the batteries actually 
went to the locations selected by the Army, although the United States for- 
mally recognized that the choice of locations rested with the governments 
concerned. In each case the original intent was to have United States troops 
get the batteries ready for operations as soon as possible, but to remain with 
their guns only long enough to train local forces to operate them— a period 
estimated at four months— and then to turn over the guns to Chile, Peru, and 
Venezuela under lend-lease. On 4 February Colonel Sackville reported to 
General Headquarters in order to prepare detailed plans for the operation; 
the movement was scheduled to begin about 15 February.*' 

Chile, though accepting the offijr of aid in principle, hesitated about ac- 
cepting it in full. After agreeing before Pearl Harbor to the use of its ports 
by operating units of the United States Navy, the Chilean Government be- 
came more and more reluctant to co-operate openly in hemisphere defense 
measures. On 21 January it informed the United States that it would not 
dare break diplomatic relations with the Axis unless it were promised imme- 
diate delivery of thirty-six combat airplanes and sixty-three antiaircraft guns.** 

" Designation changed to 58th Coast Artillery in November 1942. 

Memos, G-2 for WPD, 27 and 28 Jan 42, WPD 4655-1 ; Notes on White House Conf, 28 Jan 
42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs & Confs ( 1-28-42) ; various papers, dated 30 Jan-5 Feb 42, WPD 4655-3 
and WPD 4655-4; Notes on GHQ Staff Confs, 3, 4, and 6 Feb 42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2. 
Notes on Conf of War and Navy Dept officials with Secy State Hull, 2 1 Jan 42, WPD 4228-37. 



The material was not forthcoming, and Chile did not break relations with 
the Axis until a year later, on 20 January 1S>43. As for the coast artillery bat- 
teries, Chilean objections led to scaling down personnel to two officers and 
twenty-five men for each battery and elimination of the regimental head- 
quarters from the movement. The force actually sent thus had less than one 
tenth the strength of that originally proposed. The reduced contingent, un- 
der Colonel Sackville's command, sailed from San Francisco on 19 February 
1942 and reached its Chilean positions in late March. A month later its guns 
were ready to fire, though the Army reminded the Department of State that 
these skeleton United States batteries could not be expected to function very 
efficiently. The training of Chilean coast artillery units progressed slowly, 
and it was not until April 1943 that the United States cadre was withdrawn 
and the guns turned over to Chile.*' 

A full contingent of 13 officers and 278 enlisted men accompanied the 
coast artillery battery that arrived at Talara, Peru, on 8 March 1942. Before 
the Peruvian Government received the offi^r of the battery, it had agreed to 
permit United States air operations firom the vicinity of Talara in connec- 
tion with the Pacific patrol instituted after Pearl Harbor as a part of the air 
defense system of the Panama Canal.^" Peru accepted the coast artillery pro- 
posal with enthusiasm, and the excellent co-operation of Peruvian forces per- 
mitted the battery to complete its training mission on schedule. It turned 
over its guns and other equipment to the Peruvians in August 1942, and at 
the same time most of its personnel was absorbed into two antiaircraft bat- 
teries organized to protect the new American air base then being established 
near Talara.' ' 

In a defense agreement signed by a representative of the Caribbean De- 
fense Command and Venezuelan military authorities on 15 January 1942, the 
United States Army promised to furnish three batteries of 155-mm. guns to 
protect oil installations along the Venezuelan coast and to provide officers 

«' Various papers, dated 8 Feb-18 Mar 42, WPD 4655-4; Notes on SLC mtg, 27 Apr 42, OPD 
334.8 (3-6-42); Ltr, SW to Secy State, 13 May 42, WDCSA 381 War Plans; Historical Division, 
Caribbean Defense Command, MS, Chile: Missions and Defense Measures, 1939-1946, pp. 27-31. 
With respect to both Chile and Peru, the United States Army ran into the minor complication that 
in those countries coast artillery defense was then under the jurisdiction of their navies and not of 
their armies. 

'° Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States, treats the air defense system of the 
Panama Canal, including a brief account of the development of new Army air bases in Central Amer- 
ica, at Salinas and on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and at Talara in Peru. 

" The 723d and 727th Batteries CA (AA), activated 14 August 1942. The arrangements for 
sending coast artillery to Peru can be followed in WPD 4655-4. See Historical Section, Caribbean 
Defense Command, MS, United States Missions and Bases in Peru and the Caribbean Defense Com- 
mand, pp. 35ff., for further details. 


to instruct Venezuelan Army forces in the operation of the guns. When 
Venezuela in early February received the oflFer of one battery of 155-mm. 
guns fully manned by United States troops, it hesitated to accept, but after 
a German submarine shelled the offshore island of Aruba on 16 February it 
agreed to the terms on which the battery of the 56th Coast Artillery Regi- 
ment had been offered. Known as the Vellum Force, the troops of the bat- 
tery sailed from New Orleans on 26 February, landed first in Trinidad, and 
reached Puerto de la Cruz in Venezuela on 13 March. Because of the delay 
in the shipment of its guns and equipment and in the construction of suit- 
able barracks, the coast artillery installations at Puerto de la Cruz and at Las 
Piedras four hundred fifty miles westward did not become operational until 
the end of May 1942. The training of Venezuelan replacements began in July 
but proceeded so slowly that United States troops could not be withdrawn 
until March 1943-'' 

The South American coast artillery project, when first proposed in late 
January 1942, was looked upon as a defense measure of some value, but be- 
fore any of the guns had been installed the Army shifted to the view that 
the 56th Coast Artillery was to be engaged in much more of a political than 
military mission. As early as 10 February General Marshall expressed a strong 
desire to turn over the guns to local forces and get the men back to the United 
States just as soon as possible.'' By late February the Army was saying with 
emphasis that, except in nonheastern Brazil, the protection of vulnerable in- 
stallations in the Latin American nations was their responsibility and not 
that of United States ground and air forces.'^"* With this position the Latin 
American countries generally agreed, although they wanted large quantities 
of equipment for their protective forces, equipment that the United States 
could not supply. The effectiveness of the twenty-four 155-mm. guns actually 
installed was never tested. The commander of the battery at Talara, Peru, the 
most favorably situated of all the batteries, believed that for a really effective 
defense the Talara area needed four more 155-mm. guns, two batteries of 
large-caliber seacoast guns, a submarine mine battery, an underwater listening 

The terms governing dispatch of the battery to Venezuela are set forth in Memo, WPD for 
Dept of State, 7 Feb 42, WPD 465 5-4; and their acceptance, Memo, Dept of State for WPD, 17 Feb 
42, WPD 4361- 18. There is a good account of the difficulties encountered by the Vellum Force in 
Historical Section, Caribbean Defense Command, MS, Military Collaboration, CD. C— Venezuela 
During World War II, Ch. VL Chapter VII of the same monograph describes the installation and 
operation, between the autumn of 1942 and February 1944, of United States Army batteries on Patos 
Island, belonging to Venezuela and located adjacent to Trinidad. 

'» Remarks of Gen Marshall at SLC mtg, 10 Feb 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 46. 

For example. Memo, Col Barber, WPD, for Ln Office, Dept of State, 2 1 Feb 42, WPD 4383- 14, 
concluding: "Attention is invited to the fact that in the last analysis, it is necessary for each country 
to protect adequately its own vital facilities and its own sources of strategic supplies." 



loop, at least one battery of 3-inch antiaircraft guns, a field artillery battalion, 
a regiment of infantry, and defensive aircraft, plus, of course, the necessary 
signal and other service troops to make these combat units effective in 
action." Protection of this dimension to the fourteen points along the north- 
ern and western coasts of South America listed by General Miles on 27 Jan- 
uary as essential to the United States war effort would have absorbed a large 
portion of the United States Army and was impossible if the United States 
intended to win the war. 

Placing United States Army forces on the territory of the Latin American 
nations raised the issue of command. In January 1942 both General Miles 
and General Andrews, the Caribbean commander, suggested that when small 
forces with nothing more than a local mission were stationed on foreign soil 
it would be a good idea to put them under command of the military author- 
ities of the country concerned. Such a move, they believed, would go far 
toward forestalling local criticism about United States infringements on sov- 
ereignty. The War Department recognized the merit of this suggestion but 
did not want to accept it as customary practice. Instead, the approved policy 
specified that command arrangements should be made separately in accord- 
ance with the circumstances of each individual case, and in no case without 
advance authorization from the War Department.'* In practice, the Army 
agreed to put the small servicing and weather detachments stationed at vari- 
ous Latin American airfields under nominal local command, and it accepted 
Chilean command of the coast artillery contingent sent to that country.'^ 
The Peruvian and Venezuelan coast artillery batteries were placed under the 
command of the local United States military attaches, on the theory that 
these detachments were engaged in a training rather than a tactical mission. 
The Army ground and air forces sent to the new bases established as part of 
the Panama Canal defense system remained under the exclusive jurisdiction 
of the United States, although it was agreed that if ground forces of those 
bases were detached for local missions they would operate under local 

" Historical Section, Caribbean Defense Command, MS, Procurement, Occupation, and Use of 
Peruviati Bases, p. 32. 

9« Report by G-3 GHQ, 7 Jan 42, GHQ J 37 Staff Confs Binder 2; Pers Ltr, Gen Andrews to Gen 
McNair, CofS GHQ, 15 Jan 42, WPD 4452-19; Memo, WPD for CofS, 1 Feb 42, and other papers, 

" For the servicing detachments, the staff agreement of 1 5 January 1942 with Venezuela was a 
typical arrangement; see Hist Sec, CDC Military Collaboration, C.D.C.— Venezuela During World 
War II, p. 26. For Chile, Memo, WPD for G-2, 19 Feb 42, WPD 4655-4. 

" Article XIV of the informal agreement of 24 January 1942 governing the occupation of the base 
at Salinas, Ecuador, copy in WPD 4225-28. The Salinas agreement served as a model fot later arrange- 



The token assistance given by a coast artillery regiment and the very 
small quantities of munitions that could be furnished immediately under 
lend-lease were no real measure of the protection that the United States pro- 
vided for the Latin American nations after Pearl Harbor. It stood ready to 
render military assistance on request to any friendly government threatened 
by an internal and Axis-inspired revolutionary movement. Its intelligence 
agents, civilian and military, co-operated closely with the Latin American 
governments in rooting out Axis agents and in curbing activities that were 
considered inimical to the defense and war efforts.'' To help guard Latin 
America against external attack, the United States Navy operated small but 
active task forces off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America. The 
Army had sizable ground and air garrisons in Panama and Puerto Rico and 
smaller forces at the newer bases that could have been employed to fend off 
a transoceanic invader. Above all, the United States was fully committed to 
using as much of its general military strength as might be necessary to pro- 
tect the New World against a major external attack. That was the funda- 
mental premise in all of the war plans drafted before Pearl Harbor, and it re- 
mained the basic consideration thereafter in planning for the offensive. 

" This topic has not been treated for security reasons. 


The Supply of Arms to Latin America 

The supply of arms posed some of the thorniest problems in American 
military relations with the Latin American nations during the whole World 
War II period. It will be recalled that the Army had suggested in May 1938 
that relations might be substantially improved if the United States encour- 
aged the private sales of munitions to these countries. The Deparment of 
State rejected the suggestion. Instead, it continued its more or less official 
disapproval of foreign munitions sales, illustrated by current instructions that 
required American military attaches in Latin America to avoid, whenever 
possible, the discussion of arms purchases from United States firms.' This 
remained American policy until after the outbreak of war in Europe in Sep- 
tember 1939. 

Until then, also, the factor of price was an even more important barrier 
to American sales of arms in Latin America than American policy. The Latin 
Americans could purchase most munitions more cheaply, and on easier terms, 
from European than from American producers. In consequence, except for 
military airplanes and airplane parts, American arms sales to most of the 
Latin American countries from 1935 onward were negligible. They averaged 
about $10,000,000 a year for the period 1936-39, measured in terms of the 
dollar value of export licenses issued, and about 85 percent of the total con- 
sisted of military aircraft and aircraft spare parts. Sales reached their peak in 
1938, due principally to relatively large aircraft purchases by the Argentine 
Government. Thereafter they declined.^ 

Germany and Italy were the principal purveyors of munitions to Latin 
America on the eve of World War II. The Nazi technique of barter econ- 
omy, by which Germany purchased raw materials with blocked marks that 
could only be expended on German goods, naturally helped the Germans to 

' See ICh. Villi , above; G-2 study, title; The Existing International Situation, forwarded with 
Memo, G-2 for WPD, 31 Aug 37, WPD 3748-9; Memo, Chief Lat Amer Sec G-2 for Chief Intel- 
ligence Br G-2, 13 May 38; Min, Jt Secretariat mtg, 15 Jun 38. Last two in SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 
9 and 10. 

' Statements are based on statistics compiled from Documents en American Foreign Relations, Jan- 
uary 1938-June 1939, S. Shepard Jones and Denys P. Myers, eds. (Boston: World Peace Foundation, 
1939), pp. 576-80; and Documents on American Foreign Relations, July 1939-June 1940, II, 838-43. 



capture the market, and the Department of State believed that both the 
German and the Italian Governments were granting either direct or indirect 
subsidies to munitions sales in Latin America.' The sales of munitions by 
Germany and Italy, coupled with their large share in the training of Latin 
American armies and in the schooling of Latin American officers abroad, ex- 
erted an important influence in Latin American military circles, especially 
among high-ranking officers. This in turn had a more far-reaching significance 
for the interest of the United States in continental security, because in most 
Latin American nations the military had a large influence in the formulation 
and direction of national policy. 

In November 1938 President Roosevelt indicated to Under Secretary of 
State Welles that to offset Nazi and Fascist influence of this sort he would 
like to have legislation adopted that would permit the War and Navy De- 
partments to sell at cost some of their surplus military material to the Latin 
American republics.'' This suggestion ran into complications. The Army 
had some military surplus that could have been supplied to Latin American 
countries, but until the outbreak of war in Europe legal barriers were gen- 
erally believed to forbid such sales. After September 1939, when these bar- 
riers were removed by reinterpretation of old legislation and enactment of 
new, the United States was itself engaged in a rearmament program that ab- 
sorbed some of the existing surplus and most of the remainder was to be made 
available after May 1940 to nations who were fighting the Axis overseas. 
During this second period, too, the nation's own rearmament program barred 
any serious thought of manufacturing new military equipment for the Latin 
Americans in government-owned arsenals.' 

Law, Policy, and Procedure 

The Army had considered the legal problem of public sales in making its 
initial proposal for a re-examination of arms policy in May 1938. While an 
act of 5 June 1920 authorized the Secretary of War to dispose of surplus war 
material to foreign governments, the War Department at the time considered 
itself bound by a subsequent Presidential letter of 23 April 1923 that pro- 

' Resume of Dept of State memo on Italian Fascist and German Nazi activity in the Amer repub- 
lics, 1 Mar 38, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 2. 

* Notes on SLC mtg, 14 Nov 38, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 29. 

' General Marshall made a frank and succinct statement of the Army 's position to the Department 
of State in February 1940, in which he said the War Department doubted "whether, in the event of 
passage of the legislation now pending before Congress . . . , any orders [for new equipment] for 
the other American Republics can be filled in less than two years." Memo of Conv, 2 1 Feb 40, WPD 



hibited such sales. Although an interpretation in 1931 held that exceptions 
to this prohibition could be made with specific Presidential approval in each 
instance,* in 1938 it was generally believed that the proposal to sell surplus 
military stocks to Latin America called not only for a change in policy but 
for new legislation as well. Prompted by President Roosevelt, Congress in 
January 1939 prepared the draft of a joint resolution designed to authorize 
limited sales of military equipment to Latin America. Known as the Pittman 
Resolution and first introduced in March 1939, it was not finally adopted 
until 15 June 1940. In its final form, the Pittman Resolution stated, "the 
President may, in his discretion, authorize the Secretary of "War to manu- 
facture in factories and arsenals under his jurisdiction, or otherwise procure, 
coast-defense and antiaircraft materiel, including ammunition therefor," and 
to sell these types of munitions to American republics, subject to a number 
of provisos, including a pledge by recipients not to dispose of such material 
subsequently to a non-American government.' While this resolution when 
introduced was interpreted to cover the disposal of surplus material, its limi- 
tation to coast artillery and antiaircraft guns led the Army to seek a different 

The Army realized it would have to find some new solution when Brazil 
asked for large quantities of American arms in the summer of 1939.' The 
outbreak of war in Europe prompted President Roosevelt to act. On 4 Sep- 
tember 1939 he told Under Secretary Welles that "since under existing legis- 
lation we cannot give or sell any old arms to Brazil, it might be possible to 
get around that difficulty by having the War Department under existing law 
sell suitable old guns to some American citizen under an arrangement which 
would provide that he in turn dispose of them to the Brazilian Govern- 
ment"— a suggestion that foreshadowed the method used in the transfer of 
large surpluses to Great Britain in 1940. The Army's Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral thereupon advised that his office had on several recent occasions held 
that the act of 5 June 1920 authorized the Secretary of War, with Presiden- 
tial approval, to dispose of surplus military equipment, for which there was 
no domestic market, to foreign purchasers, including foreign governments. 
Therefore he held that there was no need to resort to the strategem sug- 
gested by the President.'" 

" G-2 Interoffice Memo, 13 May 38, SLC Min, Vol. 1, Item 9. 
' Public Resolution No. 83, 76th Congress. 

' The Judge Advocate General, as early as 5 April 1939, interpreted the proposed resolution as 
excluding the sale of any other military equipment such as rifles a nd pistols. SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 35. 

' On the circumstances of this Brazilian request, see lCh. XT] below. 
Ltr, Under Secy State to CofS, 5 Sep 39, WPD 4224-17; Memo, JAG for CofS, 6 Sep 39, WPD 
4224-18. In the latter memo. The Judge Advocate General expressed the opinion that the procedure 
suggested by President Roosevelt was itself illegal. 



Having cleared the hurdle of law with respect to surplus material, the 
Army still had to cope with the problem of policy. When Chile submitted 
a request for arms in the fall of 1939, General Marshall stated his own 
doubts about "the propriety of supplying them with small arms, in view 
of our declared policy not to sell [government-owned] small arms to foreign 
nations." ' ' General Marshall also expressed his understanding that it was 
"not the policy of the State Department at the present time to consider selling 
rifles, automatic rifles and machine guns to Western Hemisphere Republics. 
Up to now, the policy has been confined to Coast Defense and Antiaircraft 
weapons— if it at all." Mr. Welles agreed to lay the matter of selling small 
arms and other types of offensive weapons before the President in order to 
secure a policy decision. " 

A change in policy seems to have been effected by accident rather than 
by design. In early December 1939, President Roosevelt received the Presi- 
dent of Haiti at the White House, and during their conversations the 
American President promised to furnish Haiti with some rifles and machine 
guns out of Army stocks. Apparently the President made this commitment 
without consulting either the State or War Department. Though Haiti at 
the time did not get the arms requested— principally because it had no money 
to pay for them— the President's approval of the idea in this instance 
seems to have stilled any further objections on the ground of principle to 
the release of small arms and other weapons capable of offensive use."* 

The Chilean request for arms presented in the fall of 1939 illustrated the 
practical difliculties of putting the new policy into effect. Chile first approached 
G-2 with a request for information about the best means of obtaining a large 
quantity of war material, particularly antiaircraft guns, howitzers, and infantry 
mortars, from private American firms. The information was freely given, 
along with permission to use Army designs if orders were placed, but evi- 
dently the Chileans discovered that the problem of cost was insurmountable. 
The next step was a Chilean request to the Department of State for assistance 
in obtaining government-owned Army and Navy munitions. Chile wanted to 

" Remarks of Gen Marshall at SLC mtg, 20 Nov 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 45. 

'2 Memo, CofS for WPD, 21 Nov 39, WPD 4228. Italits in original. This statement reflected 
the discussion of the subject with Under Secretary of State Welles at the SLC meetings on 6 and 20 
November 1939. SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 41 and 45. 

" Notes on SLC mtgs, 20 Nov and 7 Dec 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 45 and 47. Judging from 
the reported remarks of Mr. Welles at these two meetings, the Under Secretary seems himself to 
have shifted ground between these two dates from opposition to cautious advocacy of the Chilean 
requests for offensive-type arms. 

For the Haitian transaction, see undated memo (about 1 Feb 40), title: Status of Negotiations 
on Sale of Armament to the Amer Republics, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 49. Also, various papers in WPD 



purchase two cruisers and two destroyers for its Navy and antiaircraft and 
other artillery pieces for its Army. The Chilean Army was described by the 
Department of State as being in "deplorable" circumstances, and Mr. Welles 
urged the Army and Navy to consider what might be done on Chile's behalf 
For the Navy, Admiral Stark stated that while it might be possible to release 
some old destroyers to Chile, he was opposed to the idea. These vessels, he 
contended, could be most usefully employed in hemisphere defense by the 
United States Navy itself In the meantime. General Marshall had direaed 
the Chief of Ordnance to survey his stocks and decide what might be offered 
to Chile. The resulting list, submitted to the Department of State in mid- 
December for transmission to the Chileans, included one hundred thousand 
Enfield rifles, one hundred old 75-mm. guns, and some obsolete mortars and 
mountain guns, with ammunition for the last-named only.'* Although cost 
was one reason for the Chilean's reluctance to consider the purchase of any 
items on this Army list of surplus, a more important factor was their intima- 
tion to the Department of State that what they really wanted was modem 
equipment, especially antiaircraft and field artillery guns.'^ General Marshall 
had to explain that the Army was not prepared to part with any of its modem 
equipment or to promise any deliveries from future production for a long time 
to come.'* All that it could do was to add some 8-inch howitzers to the 
original list. The Chileans decided that none of the material offered was suffi- 
ciently attractive in type or price to justify purchase." 

Thus, the shift in United States policy that permitted the sale of surplus 
government arms to Latin American republics actually had little effect in 
practice before the summer of 1940. The only significant sales under the re- 
vised policy were made to Brazil.^" The Latin Americans wanted modern and 
not obsolete arms, and at a price they could afford. Because of its own re- 
armament program the United States Army held that it could not spare 
modern arms at any price. 

The critical situation that confronted the United States in May and June 
1940 called forth a new definition of American policy toward the supply of 
arms to Latin America. The Army liaison officers who were hurriedly dis- 
patched to the Latin American states in June 1940 were authorized to ask 

" Undated Memo (about 1 Feb 40), title: Status of Negotiations . . ., and Notes on SLC mtgs, 
6 and 20 Nov and 7 Dec 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 41, 45, 47, and 49. 
'« Memo, WPD for G-4, 27 Feb 40, WPD 4244-3. 
" Notes on SLC mtg, 9 Jan 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 48. 

'» Dept of State Memo of Conv, 19 Feb 40, AG 400.3295 ( 1-4-40) ; Notes on Conv, 2 1 Feb 40, 
WPD 4228; SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 50. 

" Report of A&NMB, 29 May 40, WPD 4244-4. 

On the supply of arms to Brazil, see Chs. XI and XII below, 



what aid from the United States these states needed for self-defense and for 
their contribution to hemisphere defense.^' The Latin Americans responded 
by emphasizing their dire need for all sorts of war material, which they in- 
sisted must be furnished to them at a cost they could afford to pay. The 
Minister of National Defense of one of the smaller but strategically located 
republics summed up the situation when he said: "We are naked and need 
help." " 

The United States clearly recognized the military impotence of most of 
the Latin American states and their need for additional armaments, but after 
June 1940 its own rapid military expansion to meet the Axis threat and the 
large-scale transfer of military equipment to Great Britain all but eliminated 
any "surplus" even of obsolete material. General Marshall and Admiral Stark 
presented this problem to President Roosevelt on 24 June as one of the many 
"Decisions as to National Action" that had to be made: 

The facts are— At the present there are practically no excess facilities available in this 
country for the manufacture of heavy weapons and ships other than small or medium 
sized noncombatant craft. The Army has a few rifles and machine guns that possibly 
might be released, but there would be no ammunition available for these weapons earlier 
than March, 1941. 

It is recommended that— Should it be found possible for Latin American countries 
to procure material in the United States, credits be provided for the purpose.^' 

The President approved this recommendation on 24 June, and in accordance 
with his decision the approved policy statement read: "It is decided that by 
providing small amounts of munitions at intervals, the urgent requirements 
of the Latin American countries requesting munitions may be met. Credits 
will be provided for the purchase of munitions." ^"^ 

Early in July Colonel Ridgway of the War Plans Division prepared a 
summary of the Latin American arms situation for General Marshall. Colonel 
Ridgway noted that the act of 1920 permitted the sale of surplus items and 
that the Army could price them within reach of Latin American means. But 
the Army's surplus stocks still available in July 1940 consisted of items that 
the Latin Americans had indicated they did not want regardless of price. 
Colonel Ridgway pointed out that the Pittman Resolution, recently passed, 
permitted the sale of coast defense and antiaircraft guns but required that 
sales be made at no expense to the United States. Even if the United States 

" Par. 2c, Instructions for Ln Of6, 29 May 40, WPD 4115-16. 
" Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 1 Jun 40, WPD 4 1 1 5-28. 
"JtMemo, CofS and CNO for President, 22 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 
'* Jt Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 27 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 


Ch. II above. 

The President's approval 

and decision are recorded in Memo, Gen Marshall for Gen Strong, ACofS WPD, 24 Jun 40, WPD 



could afford to spare any new coast defense and antiaircraft guns, the Latin 
American states could not afford to pay for them. What they wanted, fur- 
thermore, was a full array of military and naval equipment. Brazil's request, 
submitted on 12 June 1S>40, was illustrative: it included a great variety of 
items that the United States was not legally authorized to sell; the total cost 
of the items was roughly calculated at $180,000,000; Brazil wanted 50 per- 
cent deliveries as soon as possible, the balance within five years, and an 
extension of credit that would permit payment over a ten-year period. In 
order to decide how, and how far, the Brazilian request should and could be 
met, as well as how to deal with the many other Latin American requests 
that had already been submitted formally or informally, Colonel Ridgway 
presented to the Chief of Staff a statement of policy and recommended that 
it be discussed by the Standing Liaison Committee and the results submitted 
to the President for his decision." 

In slightly modified form. President Roosevelt approved the statement on 
1 August 1940. It provided: 

a. For arming the countries named to the extent indicated, as determined in each case 
by our estimate of their requirements: 

(1) (a) Brazil— To insure her ability to defend herself against a major [Axis] attack 
from neighboring states, or from overseas, and against internal disorder, until U. S. armed 
aid can arrive in sufficient force to insure success. 

(b) Mexico— To insure her ability to defend herself against any probable attack 
from overseas, and against internal disorder, until U.S. armed aid can arrive in sufficient 
force to insure success. 

(2) Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela— To insure their ability to meet and repel 
any probable minor attack from overseas and to insure their internal stability. 

(3) Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba, Haiti, 
and the Dominican Republic— To insure internal stability. 

(4) Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Peru— To be determmed after 
requirements for the other republics have been computed and plans to supply them have 
been approved. 

b. For providing these arms on financial terms these Republics can meet. 

c. For assistance in the matter of military, naval, and industrial personnel. 

d. For adjusting the economic relations between the United States and Latin Ameri- 
can states to insure the latter's political cooperation. Financial arrangements to accom- 
plish this adjustment should be made on the basis of accepting the loss as a proper charge 
against our National defense.^'' 

Admiral Stark, in indicating his agreement with this statement of policy, 
had remarked: "This is just common sense." " 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 8 Jul 40, WPD 4244-10. 

Proposed National Policy Re Supply of Arms to Amer Republics, 27 July 1940, and General 
Marshall's pencil notation thereon, indicating the President's approval, WPD 4244-10. 
" WPD Note for Record, 27 Jul 40, WPD 4244-10. 



Common sense it may have been, but problems of ways and means pre- 
vented any effective fulfillment of the new policy before Pearl Harbor. The 
mounting pressure of America's own program of military expansion and 
rearmament and successive and huge calls for aid from nations actively fight- 
ing the Axis Powers were to make it virtually impossible to send even token 
shipments of modern arms to the Latin American nations. Furthermore, 
Mr. Stimson, the new Secretary of War, had as.sumed office with the con- 
viction that "Hitler's so-called fifth-column movements in South America" 
were merely "attempts to frighten us from sending help where it will be 
most effective."^* During the prewar period he more or less consistently 
opposed sending modern military equipment to the Latin American nations, 
on the ground that American security required that first call on it should be 
given to meet the more urgent demands of the home front and fighting 
fronts abroad.^' While the problem of arms supply was to loom very large 
in military relationships with Latin America between the summer of 1940 
and December 1941, its record is a story of good intentions, extensive plan- 
ning, and refinement of policy by Army staff officers, but of almost no per- 
formance on the part of the United States; on the part of the Latin Americans 
it is a story of exaggerated and frustrated hopes and of understandable 

Aside from the scarcity of weapons, there was another fundamental reason 
for misunderstanding in Latin American arms negotiations during the prewar 
period. Customarily, there was a very wide divergence between the estimates 
submitted by the Latin American nations of what they considered their essen- 
tial needs to be and the Army's estimates of what the United States ought 
to supply to them when it could. The approved war plans of the Army and 
Navy envisaged that the principal defense against any Axis assault in strength 
on any point in the hemisphere would have to be provided by United States 
forces. The most that the United States Army could plan to do, considering 
its own and other more pressing needs, was to furnish Latin American nations 
with enough arms to maintain their internal security and fend off external 
attacks until United States forces could arrive. This limited defensive role 
was far from palatable to the Latin Americans. Naturally enough, the larger 
nations wanted to take a more active hand in any large-scale hemisphere de- 

" Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, p. 3 19. 

" For example, in a discussion with Secretary Hull about allocating some airplanes to the Latin 
American nations, Mr. Stimson said, "Latin America ought to be ruled out altogether," because 
"there was no war in this Hemisphere at present and the urgent front, in view of the small supply 
of our planes, should be considered to be only where the war was raging and where planes were really 
?.aually now needed." Stimson Diary, entry of 23 Dec 40. 



fense operations that might develop. For this purpose, they wanted modern, 
balanced forces, equipped for offensive as well as purely defensive operations. 
In consequence, there was usually a very great difference between the types 
of material they requested and the types the United States planned to make 
available to them. 

In the fall of 1940 the Army anticipated that the Export-Import Bank 
would provide the credits to enable Latin American nations to purchase arms 
from the United States. The credits would come from the $500,000,000 that 
Congress on 26 September authorized the bank to lend to Latin American 
republics. Actually, before the "processing" had been completed on any of 
their applications, the Latin American states were included within the lend- 
lease framework, and almost all of their "credits" were therefore provided 
out of lend-lease appropriations.'" 

The procedure for processing Latin American arms requisitions through 
the State, War, and Navy Departments and their interdepartmental com- 
mittees proved to be a much more complicated matter than the arrangement 
of credits. It also underwent rather frequent change and refinement. The basic 
features of the system were settled for the Army in a joint memorandum 
approved by the Secretaries of War and State in March 1S)40. Requests were 
to be received only from officially accredited Latin American government 
representatives, not from private brokers. They were to submit their requests 
first to the Department of State, which would transmit them to the War 
Department only after the Department of State had determined that the re- 
quest conformed to current foreign policy. With Department of State consent, 
foreign representatives might confer informally with War Department repre- 
sentatives in the early stages of a negotiation, but the War Department could 
not commit the United States to filling a request without full Department of 
State cognizance and approval. After Department of State approval, the War 
Department would handle the actual negotiation, with the final agreement 
again subject to Department of State review.'' 

General Marshall in November 1S>40 proposed the establishment of a joint 
Army-Navy board to supervise the processing of Latin American arms re- 
quests. At first the Navy objected to the creation of such a board. Navy plan- 
ning officers felt that there were already too many special emergency boards 
and committees; they also felt that a board such as the Army had proposed 
would get nowhere unless it were tied into the priorities system of the Ad- 
visory Commission to the Council of National Defense and the work of the 

»» Stettinius, Lend-Uase, pp. 38-39; Notes on SLC mtg, 8 Nov 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 63. 
" Jt Memo for Record, SW and Secy State, 12 Mat 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 50. 



Priorities Committee of the Army and Navy Munitions Board. Conferences 
ironed out the objections raised by the Navy, and a charter for the new organi- 
zation, known as the Joint Advisory Board on American RepubUcs, was 
formally approved in mid-December. It was to consist of three Army mem- 
bers (representing the War Plans and Supply Divisions of the General Staff, 
and the Army and Navy Munitions Board) and two Navy members (repre- 
senting the Navy's War Plans Division and Fleet Maintenance Division). 
The board's duties were to handle all Latin American munitions requests 
transmitted by the Department of State and to draft a detailed program for 
future arms aid to Latin America.'^ 

The establishment of the Joint Advisory Board was accompanied by a 
new refinement in policy, based on the premise that "Hemisphere solidarity 
demands that the United States take all reasonable measures to meet the needs 
of our sister republics." But the War Plans Division also observed that the 
Army's own current procurement program called for the provision of critical 
items for a force of 1,400,000 men at the earliest practicable date. The United 
States was furthermore, as of mid-November 1940, splitting its munitions 
production with the British on practically a 50-50 basis. Under the circum- 
stances, there seemed scant likelihood of any "free capacity" to meet Latin 
American needs for many months to come. Nevertheless, the Army believed 
that it should prepare to do whatever it could by adopting a precise defini- 
tion of policy and by obtaining new legislation from Congress to authorize 
sales of types of munitions to Latin America not covered by the Pittman 
Resolution." The policy proposed was approved by Secretary of War Stim- 
son on 2 December 1940. On releases, it provided for a rather involved 

a. As soon as the quantities of any item of equipment or munitions required for the 
1,418,097 troop basis are on hand, not to exceed 5% of the productive capacity of the 
United States in critical items and 50% in essential items may be allocated to other 
American Republics. 

b. As soon as the quantities of any critical item of equipment or munitions required 
for two million men are at hand, not to exceed 50% of the productive capacity of the 
United States, after British commitments have been met, may be allocated to other Amer- 

" Notes on SLC mtg, 8 Nov 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 63; Memos, 20, 22, and 26 Nov 40, JAB 
2-2 (OPDMisc3J);Memo, WPD for CofS, 6 Dec 40, JAB 1-2 (OPD Misc 32); Jt A&N Memo, 
n.d., sub: Appointment of Bd . . ., approved by SW on 1 7 Dec and SN on 23 Dec 40; Memo, WPD 
for TAG, 3 1 Dec 40. Last two in WPD 4244- 18. The board's system for handling requests for Army 
material is set forth in a paper entitled Procedure for Handling Requests for Armaments, 26 Dec 40. 
This paper was drafted by Colonel Ridgway, WPD member and the board's chief architect and 
moving spirit, and is in JAB 2-6 (OPD Misc 33). 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 Nov 40, WPD 4244-19. 



ican Republics, subject to deferment in deliveries, if necessary to meet U.S. requirements 
at that time.'"* 

In effect, the formula meant that there would be no deliveries of standard 
critical or essential items at least until January 1942. The approved policy state- 
ment also contained the following terms, which remained basically applica- 
ble to all orders thereafter: 

c. Substitute items of equipment may be released for sale to other American Republics 
whenever standard items are available for their replacement. 

d Standard, or substitute standard, equipment on/y will be authorized for manufacture 
in the United States, except in the case of prior commitments. 

e. No equipment will be sold to other American Republics unless complete units (in- 
cluding ammunition, if needed) are available. 

/ The War Department will oppose the loan of U.S. funds to other Amerian Repub- 
lics for the creation of munitions productive capacity outside the United States." 

Early in January the War Plans Division submitted to General Marshall 
a draft of proposed legislation to legalize the release of all types of new war 
material to other American republics. But the more far-reaching lend-lease 
bill was already in preparation, and in February it was decided to include 
Latin America in the lend-lease program. The Lend-Lcase Act, approved on 
11 March 1941, permitted the release of any type of weapon, and its passage 
ended the legal limitations on arms supply to the Latin American nations.'^ 

The Latin American Arms Program of 1941 

The Joint Advisory Board at its first meeting on 8 January 1941 decided 
that its Army and Navy members should first prepare separate service pro- 
grams and then combine these programs in the final stage of planning." As 
the Army members set about their work Colonel Ridgway, in an informal 
letter, described the situation they faced. In the request of one Latin Ameri- 
can country, he noted 

. . . the list of things ... in its first priority includes the most modern field and AA 
artillery and aviation. These are just the things in which our tremendously expanded 
forces are most deficient. . . . 

Added to this is the tremendously urgent demand from the British which the President 
insists we meet. It is practically certain that some items, if promptly ordered, can be pro- 
cured in the next few months. Primary training planes, commercial automotive equipment 

Memo, WPD for G-2, G-3, G-4, and A&NMB, 5 Dec 40, WPD 4244-19. Critical items 
were military supplies of a noncommercial character; essential items, those of common military and 
civilian use. 
" Ibid. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 3 Jan 4l; Memo, Gen Burns for SOS, 20 Mar 41. Both in WPD 
4244-19- Memo, WPD for Dept of State, 27 Mar 41, WPD 4380-1. 
" Min, JAB mtg, 8 Jan 41, JAB 3 (OPD Misc 34). 



of various kinds, and miscellaneous items of army equipment, other than arms and ammuni- 
tion, arc included in this class. 

. . . the transformation of our industry from the production of peace-time products to 
munitions of war on the scale now required is a task of tremendous magnitude and diffi- 
culty. I doubt if our neighbors to the South have any appreciation of the scope of our 
effort. But regardless of that, what they should nave is an appreciation of our sincerity in 
attempting to meet their demands. Of that sincerity there can be no doubt. I have seen 
it here on every hand. 

The War and Navy Departments are now working on a program for each of the Ameri- 
can Republics which have requested munitions. That program, when completed, will show 
the estimated dates by which each item will begin to become available, the period over 
which procurement will extend, the unit cost and total estimated value. These programs 
require much time to work up. The data on which they are based must come from every 
branch of industry in our country. Any attempt at hasty predictions as to the estimated 
delivery schedules is not only valueless but actually dangerous in the possible political 
reactions such predictions might produce." 

Pending the completion of a consolidated program for all of the Latin 
American nations, the Army planners made no attempt to consider requests 
already submitted by particular states, since the total amount that could be 
made available was dependent on the combined requests of all. In the interim, 
they sought to obtain lists from each country of what it wanted. The official 
or informal requests received before the Joint Advisory Board's report was 
completed totaled about a billion dollars for Army material and another 
quarter billion for Navy material. The board concluded that these requests 
would have to be scaled down by excluding all but the most urgent require- 
ments for hemisphere defense.'* 

In drafting the Latin American arms program, the members of the Joint 
Advisory Board had to take into consideration a variety of factors. The basic 
consideration was the contribution that each nation could be expected to 
make toward hemisphere defense, particularly toward the security of the 
Panama Canal. The existing military strength of each nation had also to be 
weighed, and every individual allotment had to be calculated in the light of 
the existing rivalries between each state and its neighbors. Nor could the 
United States expect that the supply of arms would serve to purchase the 
good will of the Latin Americans. It was far more likely that the allocations 
to any particular state would arouse the envy and distrust of its neighbors. 
Therefore, the planners believed that any credits extended to finance arms 

" Ltr, Col Ridgway to Mr. Selden Chapin, 15 Jan 41, WPD 4J46-6. While this was osten- 
sibly a "personal" letter, Colonel Ridgway showed it to Mr. Orme Wilson, Mr. Chapin's suc- 
cessor as Liaison Officer of the Department of State, before sending it. Mr. Wilson approved it 
as a proper expression of the Latin American arms problems. 

Memo, WPD for G-2, 9 Dec 40, WPD 4244-21; Report of JAB to SW and SN, } Mar 41, 
JAB 5-2; Memo for WPD use only, 2} Sep 41, JAB 5-21. Last two in OPD Misc 36. 



supply, whether under lend-lease or otherwise, should be considered as loans 
to be repaid— if not in cash, then in definite assurances of close collaboration 
with United States forces, and in guarantees that the United States could use 
Latin American airfields, naval bases, and other facilities if and when neces- 
sary. At the beginning of March 1941, when the Joint Advisory Board com- 
pleted its report, there appeared to be no immediate danger of external 
aggression to Latin America "as long as the British-American combination 
controls the South Atlantic." On the other hand, the board did consider the 
possibility of Nazi-inspired internal uprisings a serious and constant menace, 
"if for no other reason than to obstruct our material aid to the British" by 
diverting American forces to the southward.''" 

In its report of 3 March 1941 the Joint Advisory Beard recommended a 
gross allocation of $400,000,000 for Army and Navy material, to be supplied 
to the Latin American nations within a three-year period or longer, three 
fourths of which was to be spent on Army material. Initially, individual 
allotments were recommended for each of the Latin American states except 
Mexico, Argentina, and Panama. Subsequently, allotments were also calcu- 
lated for Mexico and Argentina, and the Army total of specific allotments 
came to $286,000,000, which left an additional $14,000,000 as a general re- 
serve. The board also decided that only $70,000,000 worth of Army supplies 
could be made available during the 1941 and 1942 fiscal years, leaving $230,- 
000,000 to be furnished during fiscal 1943 "and later years." In effect, this 
very important qualification meant that only a modicum of military supplies 
could be released to the Latin American republics before the summer of 1942 
under the best of circumstances. In presenting its report, the Joint Advisory 
Board included the following recommendations: 

5. a. That plans for hemisphere defense be considered principally the responsibility of 
the United States, and that as far as possible, all plans and agreements made with the 
American republics be an extension of our own plans. 

b. That all armaments furnished to the American republics be in accordance with 
our own plans and estimates of their needs for hemisphere defense, and that these arma- 
ments be procured through the established agencies of the Army and Navy, in order to 
obtain the following advantages: 

(1) To avoid interference with the procurement plans of the British, Chinese, 
Greek, or other foreign programs. 

(2) To insure that American republics will be equipped with our own standard 

(3) To permit control over the deliveries without interfering with our own Army 
and Navy programs. 

" Memo (and attachments), A&NMB for JAB, 19 Feb 41, OPD Misc 47, Munitions for South 
Amet Countries; Report of JAB, 3 Mar 41, JAB 5-2 (OPD Misc 36). 



The board also recommended a procedure to be followed in processing fu- 
ture arms requests and maintenance of the system of priorities among nations 
approved in the summer of ISHO and reaffirmed in January 1941.'" 

The adoption of the new program for Latin American arms supply raised 
the question of how the recipients should be informed of what was in store 
for them— a particularly important matter because it was essential to good 
hemisphere relations that the Latin Americans should not entertain any false 
hopes of substantial deliveries in the immediate future. The War Department 
favored the issuance of a frank public statement by the Department of State 
that would curb such expectations: 

The United States is making a great national effort to equip its tremendously expand- 
ing armed forces. In addition, it must supply large quantities of munitions to the British. 

As long as British resistance continues, there will be no major menace to this hemis- 
phere. If British resistance collapses, we will all be in danger. 

The national safety of all countries of this hemisphere demands that the British be 
supplied as fully and as rapidly as possible. The United States is doing this even to the 
extent of delaying the equipping of its own troops, but it is doing so in the common 
defense of all the Americas. 

Subject to agreement upon details, the American republics can be assured that they 
may begin procuring their armaments in the United States as soon as our produaion will 
meet these vital prior requirements. Their armies could thus commence to receive arms 
only a short time after the armies of the United States have received theirs. 

In forwarding this draft, the Secretary of War observed that the Latin Amer- 
icas "not unnaturally . . . conceive of us as a huge arsenal well-stocked with 
all kinds of weapons, and when we tell them of our real condition they don't 
believe us. Being non-industrial nations, they have no conception of the time 
necessary for the manufacture of munitions. The consequent result is that 
they doubt our sincerity." The Department of State decided not to issue the 
statement. The Army believed that if it had been issued a good deal of mis- 

■" Report of JAB, 3 Mar 41, and attached preliminary tabulation of allotments, JAB 5-2. The 
revised tabulation (including Argentina and Mexico) is attached to a memorandum by Colonel 
Ridgway, WPD, 24 July 1941, JAB 5-16. Panama was never included in the Latin American arms 
program. The above paragraph is also based on Report of JAB to SW and SN, 14 July 1941, JAB 
5-16; and Memo for WPD use only, 23 September 1941, JAB 5-21. General Marshall approved 
the initial report on 3 Match 1941, and subsequently the Secretaries of War, Navy, and State gave 
it their official approval. Report of JAB to SW and SN, 16 Apr 41, JAB 5-10. All in 
OPD Misc 36. 

When the calculations that led to the Victory Program of September 1941 were begun in July, 
the JAB report of 3 March 1941 and its refinements, together with a related study on Latin Amer- 
ican airplane requirements ( 1 1 April 1941, OPD Misc 47), provided a completed estimate of future 
Latin American procurement requirements that was fitted without change into the over-all long- 
range United States procurement program. Memo, Plans Sec for Lat Amer Sec WPD, 24 Jul 41; 
Memo (with incls), Lat Amet Sec WPD for Plans Sec, 31 Jul 41. Both in JAB 5-18 (OPD Misc 36). 



understanding in Latin American military relations might have been avoided 
during the succeeding months/^ 

In order to include the Latin American nations under the terms of the 
Lcnd-Lease Act, as previously planned, the President had to certify that their 
defense was vital to the defense of the United States. The Department of 
State prepared a joint State, War, and Navy Department letter to the Presi- 
dent requesting that he take this step, and he gave his official approval on 
23 April 1941.''' The War Department had already agreed that the Depart- 
ment of State should be charged with the responsibility of formally notifying 
the Latin Americans that they had been included within the lend-lease frame- 
work and of the allocations made to each of them under the new arms pro- 
gram. In late April Under Secretary of State Welles received the diplomatic 
representatives of the Latin American states and went through the ceremony 
of making these announcements. At the same time he described the procedure 
they were to follow in submitting their requests for arms under the new 

Two other essentials to carrying out the Latin American arms program 
caused a good deal of difficulty during 1941. First, each of the Latin Ameri- 
can nations had to submit an official list of its requirements, and the War 
and State Departments discovered that it took a good deal of time and effort 
to round up all of the lists. Second, each nation had to designate an official 

The statement was drafted by Colonel Ridgway, who secured advance approval of minor 
Department of State officials before it was forwarded in a formal letter to the Secretary of State. 
Secretary of State Hull held up issuance pending further discussion of which there is no record. 
The papers were still in suspense in November 1941 when Colonel Ridgway asked his colleagues 
whether the matter ought to be revived. They unanimously agreed that the time had long since 
passed when such a statement would have had a salutary effect. Memo, Col Ridgway for Chief 
WPD, 2 Apr 41, JAB 5-7 (OPD Misc 36); Ltr, SW to Secy State, 7 Apr 41, WPD 4244-33; 
Ltr, Secy State to SW, 11 Apr 41; WD pencil memos, 13 Nov 41. Last two in JAB 5-7 (OPD 
Misc 36). 

" Report of JAB, 16 Apr 41, JAB 5-10 (OPD Misc 36); Ltr, Secy War, Navy, and State to 
President, 22 Apr 41, WPD 4244-37; Ltr, Secy State to SW, 6 May 41, JAB 5-10 (OPD Misc 36). 

" The Department of State at first thought the War and Navy Departments ought to make 
the announcements, but, at War Department urging, the Department of State accepted the re- 
sponsibility. Colonel Ridgway noted that an anouncement of allocations by the War or Navy De- 
partment would have led to "prolonged discussion of each item involved, organization of the armed 
forces, and discussion of detailed plans for mutual military and naval cooperation which is not 
desirable at this time." Since the Department of State was not qualified to talk about such tech- 
nical matters, Latin American representatives could not very well raise them if the Department 
of State did the announcing. Memo, Col Ridgway for Capt Spears (Navy), 1 Apr 41; Col Ridg- 
way's Memo for Record, 1 Apr 4l. Both in JAB 5-6 (OPD Misc 36). Memo, Mr. Wilson (Dept 
of State Ln Off) for Col Ridgway, 5 May 41, JAB 5-12 (OPD Misc 36); Notes on SLC mtg, 
5 May 41, SLC Min, Vol. H, Item 23. 



representative or purchasing body to carry through negotiations after its list 
was presented, and a number of the states were slow in doing so/' 

It required two months' time and numerous conferences between the many 
agencies involved before a revised procedure for handling Latin American 
arms requests under lend-lease was finally worked out by the Division of 
Defense Aid Reports, Office for Emergency Management. The procedure, as 
finally evolved, called for the following steps: (1) through its diplomatic 
representative, a Latin American nation informed the Liaison Office of the 
Department of State that it desired lend-lease aid and that it had an officially 
accredited military representative to conduct detailed negotiations; (2) the 
Liaison Office transmitted this information to the Division of Defense Aid 
Reports, which in turn informed the proper officers of the War and Navy 
Departments; (3) the diplomatic representative visited the Division of De- 
fense Aid Reports, which explained to him all of the details of the lend-lease 
procedure; (4) the military representative then arranged with the Division of 
Defense Aid Reports to visit the War and Navy Departments, taking with 
him a precise list of the material his country wanted; (5) War and Navy offi- 
cers helped him to rearrange his list on a priority basis and in accordance 
with the allocation of lend-lease funds to be made available, and to prepare 
separate requisitions for each item on the revised list; (6) the military repre- 
sentative presented approved requisitions to the Office of Defense Aid Re- 
ports for transmission to the proper procuring agency; (7) after formal ap- 
proval and allocation of funds to cover requisitions, the requests became 
commitments of the United States, subject to the priority of its own national 
defense orders; (8) when the material called for on a requisition was ready, 
a transfer order was issued authorizing its delivery— until then, the material 
remained United States property. While these steps were being taken, the 
diplomatic representative of the Latin American nation was to negotiate a 
basic lend-lease agreement with the Department of State. During its negoti- 
ation, the Department of State was to consult with the Division of Defense 
Aid Reports but not with the planning agencies of the War and Navy De- 
partments. No material could be transferred until this basic agreement was 

■" As of April 1941, despite the fact that almost all the Latin American countries had raised 
the question of arms supply informally, only five had designated representatives officially author- 
ized to discuss such matters. Memo, Col Ridgway for Mr. Wilson, 11 Apr 41, WPD 4115-44. 
By mid-July only half the countries had submitted their armaments lists. Report of JAB, 14 Jul 41, 
JAB 5-16 (OPD Misc 36). 

Ltr, Gen Burns, Exec Ofl" Div of Def Aid Reports, to Under Secy State Welles, 2 Jul 41, 
with inclosure describing the procedure as above, JAB 2-6 (OPD Misc 33). See also, Leighton 
and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43, Ch. III. 



The War Department was dissatisfied with one aspect of the lend-lease 
procedure— the Department of State's negotiation of basic lend-lease agree- 
ments without consultation with the military services. Although the Army 
admitted that it had but slight interest in the financial provisions of these agree- 
ments, it believed that the War and Navy Departments had a fundamental 
interest in them because of their bargaining value and held, therefore, that 
none should be signed until approved by the War and Navy Departments.''^ 
Although the various War Department agencies concerned were agreed on 
this point, there seems to have been a general reluctance to press the matter 
with the Department of State. Assistant Secretary of War McCloy finally 
presented the War Department's views to the Department of State by letter, 
suggesting that "certain military and naval advantages of a limited character 
might be introduced into the negotiations," and that the War and Navy 
Departments should at least be informed about the course of lend-lease ne- 
gotiations so that the services might present bargaining points for consider- 
ation. Mr. Welles replied that the proper body to discuss this topic was the 
Standing Liaison Committee. Since the Department of State's strong objec- 
tion to any intrusion by the Army or Navy into the negotiation of basic 
lend-lease agreements was well known, the Army's spokesmen hesitated to 
ask General Marshall to press the question. In consequence, nothing more 
was done toward securing a voice in the negotiation of lend-lease agreements 
until the eve of Pearl Harbor.'"* 

G-2 suggested in September 1941 that it would be a good idea to have 
military attaches and members of military missions in Latin America play a 
more active role in lend-lease arms negotiations. They naturally were ex- 
pected to provide technical advice in the initial drafting of Latin American 
arms requests before their transmission to Washington, but G-2 also pro- 
posed that the attaches and mission members should themselves come to 
Washington to lend assistance during the processing of arms requests. The 
War Plans Division rejected this suggestion. While acknowledging that the 
attaches could offer valuable technical advice, the Plans Division pointed 
out that they lacked the broader knowledge of strategic considerations and 
over-all requirements that were the main factors in determining action on 
Latin American requests. Furthermore, since little material aid was going to 
be available for the Latin Americans for some time to come, the failure in 
any particular negotiation to secure the promise of "fairly speedy delivery of 

" Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen Gerow, WPD, 1 Aug 41, WPD 4224-174; Memo for Record, 
Col Ridgway, 6 Aug 41, JAB 5-10 (OPD Misc 36). 

*» Ltr, ASW McCloy to Mr. Welles, 5 Sep 41; Ltr, Mr. Welles to ASW McCloy, 22 Sep 41; 
Memos for Record, 25 Sep and 20 Nov 41. All in JAB 5-10 (OPD Misc 36). 



a large part of the munitions requested might cause [the attaches] a consid- 
erable loss of prestige.'"*' 

The second lend-lease appropriation act, approved on 28 October 1941, 
authorized the expenditure of $150,000,000 for Latin American munitions, 
two thirds of which was to be spent on Army material.'" This act also re- 
quired that the $100,000,000 for Army material be obligated by approved 
action on specific requisitions before 28 February 1942. In presenting the 
Latin American program during hearings on the act. Army spokesmen had 
stated that the appropriation would be spent approximately as follows: 

Ordnance and ordnance stores $45,000,000 

Aircraft and aeronautical material 29,775,000 

Tanks and other vehicles 15,000,000 

Miscellaneous military equipment 10,225,000 

Likewise, the Congressional subcommittee had been told the approximate 
sums that would be spent for each country; for example, for Brazil $25,000,- 
000, for Argentina $15,000,000, and Mexico $10,000,000.'' In order to carry 
out the authorized expenditure for Latin American arms within the time 
limit set, the Army believed it essential to secure revised requisitions from all 
the Latin American states that would conform to the limitations by category 
and breakdown by countries that had been presented informally to Congress. 
It therefore asked the Department of State to pass this information on to the 
Latin Americans so that they could submit revised lists. In making this re- 
quest, the Army also "earnestly recommended" that "the State Department 
make it clear that the utilization of the funds in question for the categories 
listed is entirely contingent upon our resources, available production, and 
other commitments, and that the allocation of funds is not an indication that 
munitions in the amounts specified will be available for early release." " 
Although the Department of State was more than willing to tell the Latin 
Americans just what was planned for them, the Navy objected, especially to 
informing them of the breakdown of funds by categories. The net result of 
this disagreement was the delay of any Department of State announcement 
to the Latin Americans until the eve of Pearl Harbor." The formal entry of 
the United States into the war then made it necessary to recast both the pro- 
gram and the policy for Latin American arms supply. 
" Memo, WPD for G-2, 10 Sep 41, WPD 4115-56. 

" The first lend-lease appropriation act of March did not carry any funds for Latin America. 
^' Memo, CofS for Under Secy State (through Mr. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Lend-Lease Ad- 
ministrator), }1 Oct 41, WPD 4244-41. 
" Hid. 

" Memo, Def Aid Dir for WPD, 13 Nov 41, WPD 4244-41; Dept of State Memo of Conv, 
13 Nov 41, WPD 4244-42; Draft Memo (not used), WPD for Def Aid Dir, 27 Nov 4l; Memo, 
Col Barber for Col Ridgway, WPD, 28 Nov 41. Last two in WPD 4244-41. 



Airplanes for Latin America 

The Latin American nations, especially the larger ones, were particularly 
interested in acquiring military aircraft from the United States. In general, 
Latin American military aviation in 1941 was in a rudimentary stage of de- 
velopment. Several countries had fewer qualified pilots than serviceable 
planes. Because some countries had been able to afford foreign airplane pur- 
chases during the preceding decade and others had not, the existing air 
strengths among the South American countries were more badly out of bal- 
ance than their relative strengths in ground forces. Above all, the Latin 
American countries lacked pilots who were qualified to fly the modern com- 
bat aircraft, or even the basic and advanced training planes, that they wished 
to secure in large numbers.'"* 

Because American aircraft production was being shared so extensively 
with the British, the question of aircraft supply to Latin America was placed 
within the jurisdiction of the Joint Aircraft Committee (composed of repre- 
sentatives of the Army, the Navy, and the British Purchasing Commission), 
rather than solely under that of the Joint Advisory Board on American Re- 
publics. Although the board formulated a Latin American aircraft program 
to supplement the over-all supply program drafted in March 1941, the air- 
craft program required the approval of the Joint Aircraft Committee and was 
not accepted in its final form until March 1942." 

Latin American requests for the purchase of military aircraft had begun to 
multiply by the fall of 1940. Argentina was attempting the direct purchase 
from private manufacturers of 300 to 400 Army-type planes, and by Decem- 
ber the War Department had received requests from other American nations 
for a total of about 1,000 military aircraft— approximately 700 tactical planes 
and 300 trainers.'* Because British needs and the rapidly expanding Army 
Air Corps were absorbing the entire output of Army-type planes, it was not 
possible to meet Latin American requests except by diverting airplanes al- 
ready allocated to the United States Army or to the British. While the De- 
partment of State and certain War Department officials would have liked to 
divert a few planes from current production in order to make token deliveries 

On Latin American air strengths: Study of Gjl Ridgway, 1 1 Apr 41, OPD Misc 47; Memo, 
G-2 for WPD, 7 Feb 42, WPD 4m- 144. On Argentine air force: Memo, Chief Air Mission for 
G-2, n.d. (Nov 41), WPD 4406-28. 

" Memo, WPD for G-2, 26 Dec 40, WPD 4406; Ltr, SW to Gen Arnold, 30 Jan 4l, JAB 4 
(OPD Misc J5); Notes on SLC mtg, 10 Jun 41, SLC Min, Vol. 11, Item 29; Report of JAC, ap- 
proved 7 Mac 42, JAB 6-15 (OPD Misc 37). 

Memo, WPD for G-2, 8 Oct 40, WPD 4374; WPD Interoffice Memo, 10 Dec 40, WPD 
4406; Memo, WPD for CofAC, 30 Dec 40, WPD 4406-1. 



to Latin America, neither the Air Corps nor the British showed any desire 
to share their allocations before the fall of 1941. 

Colonel Ridgway drafted the initial Joint Advisory Board study on Latin 
American aircraft supply in April 1941. By then, requests for about 2,000 
planes had been received. His study proposed that about $87,500,000 of the 
total of $300,000,000 tentatively recommended for Army material supply in 
the March 1941 program be spent over a five-year period for the purchase of 
1,471 planes (1,080 trainer and 391 tactical) for the Latin American coun- 
tries. Allocations were suggested for each country on the bases of its exist- 
ing air strength, the role that the United States expected it to play in hemi- 
sphere defense, and its ability to support and employ an air force effectively." 

Two months later Colonel Ridgway's study provided a basis for formal 
action by the Joint Aircraft Committee, begun after a conference of its mem- 
bers with State, War, and Navy Department and Office of Production 
Management representatives on 17 June. While accepting his estimates as a 
point of departure, the Joint Aircraft Committee decided that no specific al- 
locations should be made to any one country until all of the Latin American 
nations had submitted their requests. The Department of State was asked to 
obtain a list of requirements from each Latin American country by 15 August, 
but it was unable to do so, and two months later the lists from several na- 
tions were still not available. In effect, the delay of some nations in submit- 
ting their requests held up the negotiation of all Latin American airplane 
contracts. The Department of State and Joint Advisory Board therefore asked 
the Joint Aircraft Committee to go ahead and authorize preliminary action 
on actual requests received, as well as on the revised over-all Latin American 
aircraft program upon which the Joint Advisory Board had been working. 
This "Aircraft Program for American Republics" was submitted to the Joint 
Aircraft Committee on 30 October 1S>41. Soon thereafter, it approved a list 
of types of planes to be supplied Latin American nations and scheduled de- 
livery dates when each type was expected to become available for shipment 
to them. Initial shipments of the various trainer types were scheduled be- 
tween February and August 1942, and tactical types were to be available 
from August 1942 onward. Earlier token deliveries were to be made if 

" Study of Col Ridgway, 11 Apr 41, OPD Misc 47. Note how this study reversed the pro- 
portion of taaical and trainer planes that had been requested by the Latin Americans. 

" Ltr, Actg Secy State to SW, 2 Aug 41, and subsequent correspondence in JAB 5-16 (OPD 
Misc 36); Memo, Dept of State for J AC, 20 Oct 41, and other correspondence in JAB 6-3 (OPD 
Misc 37); Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Nov 41, OPD Misc 15. 



The Joint Aircraft Committee did not give its final approval to the Latin 
American airplane program until 7 March 1942. The subcommittee that 
drafted the report upon which this action was based attributed the long de- 
lay in completing the program to the failure of individual Latin American 
nations to take the necessary steps to qualify for airplane deliveries under 
lend-lease or, when so qualified, to their failure to submit the proper requi- 
sitions or to conform with the prescribed lend-lease procedure. The net efFea 
of those delays had been to postpone even the production scheduling of 
most Latin American airplane orders. The report therefore laid down a new 
policy; no further attempt should be made to obtain a precise estimate of 
airplane requirements from each Latin American nation, nor should there be 
a separate production schedule to meet Latin American requirements. Instead, 
military aircraft for Latin America would in the future be "provided from 
current production under Air Corps, Navy, or Defense aid contracts, subject 
to the scheduling of delivery by the Munitions Assignment Board." To cover 
past and future requests, the Joint Aircraft Committee adopted a program 
that specified the total number of each type of plane that might be supplied 
and the maximum quantity of each type that might be delivered per month. 
No attempt was made to allocate the over-all totals among the countries. 
The approved totals provided for the ultimate delivery of a maximum of 550 
training and 240 tactical planes, or a little more than half the totals proposed 
in April 1941.''' 

By March 1942, when this Joint Aircraft Committee report was approved, 
six transport planes and about one hundred training planes had actually been 
delivered or were en route to Latin America. Because of special circum- 
stances, Brazil received some tactical planes in March and April 1942 and 
more at the end of the year.*" After the slow beginning in deliveries, the 
Latin American countries actually received during and immediately after the 
war more than two thousand airplanes of Army types, a total substantially 
larger than that planned for them in 1S>41 and 1942. More than 60 percent of 
the planes went to Brazil and Mexico, both of which became active partic- 
ipants in the fighting overseas. Less than 20 percent of the total was of tac- 
tical types. Deliveries of tactical planes, originally planned for sixteen na- 
tions, were actually made only to Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Chile. The 
allocation of nontactical types among thirteen other countries did not differ 

Memo, JAC Subcommittee for JAC, 28 Feb 42, and accompanying table, JAB 6-15 (OPD 

Misc },!) 

See lCh. XII I below. 



very much from what had been planned for them in 1941.^' The value of 
Army deliveries of aircraft and air accessories to Latin America reached a total 
of nearly $128,000,000 by mid- 1945, or half again as much as originally pro- 
posed in 1941." 

Special Probiems During 1941 

Between the adoption of the March 1941 plan for arms supply to Latin 
America and the advent of hostilities in December, the War Department had 
to deal with a number of special problems that involved both old and new 
questions of policy. The first of these related to the policy, approved by the 
Secretary of War on 2 December 1940, that "the War Department will op 
pose the loan of United States funds to other American Republics for the 
creation of munitions productive capacity outside the United States." In 
March 1941 the Navy Department tried to obtain some machine tools for 
shipment to Brazilian Navy yards, where it planned to repair its own naval 
vessels. War Department policy prohibited any export of machine tools to 
Latin America. Under Secretary of State Welles, previously uninformed of 
the War Department's position, announced his strong opposition to the 
policy when the matter came to his attention. The War Department, while 
expressing sympathy for this particular Brazilian request, nevertheless urged 
that no machine tools be exported to Latin America for any purpose whatso- 
ever. The domestic shortage was too critical to permit such a diversion. The 
State and Navy Departments remained unconvinced, and the question was 
referred to the Joint Advisory Board for reconsideration. The Board recom- 
mended that, in the interest of establishing a general policy acceptable to all 
three departments, the Latin Americans should be permitted to purchase 
machine tools and machinery for creating munitions productive capacity 
''when, but only when, in the discretion of the State, War, and Navy De- 
partments, the export of these purchases will definitely best serve the national 
interests and where there is no more urgent need for the machinery for our 
own defense needs or those of other nations resisting aggression." This for- 
mula was approved, and it allowed the machine tools in question to go to 
the Brazilian Navy.*** 

This information has been derived from tables in Lend- Lease Shipments, World War 11, issued 
by the Office, Chief of Finance, War Department (Washington: 31 December 1946). The tables 
record deliveries through }0 June 1946, but most of them were made before September 1945. 

Army Service Forces International Division, MS, Lend-Lease, II, 1296, Table X. 
"■^ Notes on SLC mtg, 24 Mar 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 13; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 8 Apr 41; 
Ltr, Secy State to SW, 16 Apr 41. Last two in WPD 4224-139. Memo, JAB for SW and SN, 
2 May 41, containing the new statement of policy quoted above, JAB 8 (OPD Misc 39) ; Notes on 
SLC mtg, 5 May 41, SLC Min, Vol. 11, Item 23; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 12 May 41, WPD 4224-139. 



The outbreak of hostilities between Peru and Ecuador in July 1941 led 
the War Department to state explicitly a policy implied in the Neutrality 
Act of 1939. Since armed intervention by the United States on behalf of 
either contestant was contrary to American foreign policy, it followed that it 
would be contrary to policy to furnish weapons of any description to either 
side for the duration of hostilities. The War Department adhered to this 
policy. While it did not prevent negotiations with the two countries for fu- 
ture delivery of arms for hemisphere defense purposes, the War Department 
made it clear that "present policy precludes the furnishing of combat weap- 
ons of any description to Ecuador or Peru pending settlement of their boun- 
dary dispute."*'' 

A significant development in policy on Latin American arms supply was 
inspired by an address of Acting Secretary of State Welles on 22 July 1941. 
Mr. Welles advocated the abolition of offensive armaments as one of the 
necessary steps toward restoring postwar law and order. A few days later, 
Colonel Ridgway suggested that it would be a good idea to apply this policy 
to the Latin American arms supply program immediately, and specifically to 
bar any shipment to the Latin American nations of heavy bombardment air- 
craft, chemical warfare toxic agents, medium and heavy tanks, and seacoast 
and field artillery above 6-inch caliber.^' This suggestion became the basis for 
a formal policy decision by the Chief of Staff in mid-October that added 
medium bombardment aircraft and aircraft bombs heavier than three hundred 
pounds to Colonel Ridgway's list of munitions to be withheld. While this 
was a somewhat academic decision at the time since munitions of these types 
were not then available for Latin American supply, it provided an important 
limitation on ftiturc deliveries. General Marshall stated, as one reason for the 
adoption of the policy, that "it would be extremely dangerous to the United 
States and to neighboring American republics" if these types of equipment 
"should come under control of subversive or Axis elements." The Depart- 
ment of State took the position that a limitation-on-arms policy of this sort 
was a matter for Army and Navy decision and therefore expressed no objec- 
tion. The Navy not only concurred in the War Department's policy but also 
took parallel action by announcing its intention to withhold combat vessels 
of all types (except patrol vessels), motor torpedo boats, patrol bombers 

** Memo, WPD for Def Aid Dir, 25 Nov 41, WPD 4225-21. The initial statement of policy 
was made in Memo, WPD for CofS, 26 Jul 41, WPD 4115-53. 

Memo, written by Col Ridgway, no addressee, 25 Jul 41, WPD 4244-36. 
Notes on SLC mtg, 29 Oct 4V, SLC Min, Vol. 11, Item 35. 



(except from certain of the larger maritime powers), and such other offen- 
sive-type weapons as policy dictated in particular instances.^' 

One of the special problems of policy in which the Army had only a 
limited interest was that of arms supply to Argentina. From the summer of 
1940 onward Argentina had exhibited great reluctance to co-operate with the 
United States in hemisphere defense measures.*^ Nevertheless, the military 
services continued to hope for an improvement in Argentina's attitude 
throughout 1941. The Army's ponion of the Latin American arms program 
provided a substantial allotment for Argentina, second only to that for 
Brazil and about one sixth of the total; and the Army planned to earmark 
for Argentina one fourth of the funds appropriated in October 1941 for 
Army lend-lease to Latin America. In the summer of 1941 the United States 
definitely promised to deliver as soon as possible a considerable quantity of 
raw materials and finished manufactures that Argentina needed for her mili- 
tary expansion.*' After war broke in December, an Argentine mission 
arrived in Washington to carry on staff conversations and negotiate for arms. 
These plans and approaches were nullified by the opposition of the Argen- 
tine Government to United States objectives both before and during the Rio 
conference of January 1942 and by its subsequent insistence on maintaining 
a strict neutrality, which hardened the State and War Departments against 
granting any lend-lease aid to Argentina. In February the Department of 
State announced that it would make a clear-cut statement of the American 
position along the following lines: 

While the United States does not desire to influence Argentina in her international re- 
lations, we must adopt a realistic policy in determining priorities for delivery of lend- 
lease equipment. Obviously the United States must favor those countries which have de- 
clared war or broken relations with the Axis. The same treatment cannot be given a nation 
still on friendly terms with our enemies.'" 

The War Department in the meantime had adopted the policy of according 
a courteous hearing to Argentine arms requests, but of avoiding any action 
that would lead to their fulfillment.^' Argentina was the only American na- 
tion that did not receive any arms from the United States Government 
during World War II. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 6 Oct 41, WPD 4244- }7; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 14 Oct 41; Ltr, 
Under Secy State to SW, 12 Nov 41; Ltr, SW to SN, 29 Nov 41; Ltr, Aag SN to SW, 10 Dec 
41. Last four in AG 400.3295 (9-J0-41). 
See lCh. VIILl above. 

"Ltr, CofS to Under Secy State, 2 Jul 41; Ltr, CofS to CG PCD, 2 Jul 41. Both in AG 
400.3295 (7-2-41). 

"> Notes on SLC mtg, 10 Feb 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 46. 

" WPD Notes on Conf, 5 Jan 42, WPD 4374-2}; exchanges between Col Ridgway and 
Argentine Minister, 6 and 8 Jan 42, JAB 5-29 (OPD Misc 36). 



Two days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the War Depart- 
ment moved to reopen the question of participation by the Army in the De- 
partment of State's negotiation of basic lend-lease agreements, which the 
military planners still believed should provide bargaining opportunities to 
secure military advantages. A lend-lease administrative reorganization of Oc- 
tober provided a legitimate means by which the War Department could 
insist on its objectives being considered during these negotiations. An Exec- 
utive order of 29 October 1S>41 had directed that master lend-lease agreements 
should henceforth be negotiated by the Department of State in consultation 
with the Office of Lend-Lease Administration and the Economic Defense 
Board. As a member of the Economic Defense Board, of which Vice Presi- 
dent Henry A. Wallace was chairman, the Secretary of War presented the 
Vice President with a list of specific military advantages (mostly concerned 
with flight privileges and aerial photography) that the War Department 
wanted introduced into pending lend-lease negotiations. The Vice President 
passed Mr. Stimson's letter on to Secretary of State Hull, but almost imme- 
diately the War Department asked that its request be withdrawn since the 
outbreak of war completely changed the situation and permitted the Army 
to obtain the military advantages it desired by direct negotiation. The Secre- 
tary of State's reply to the Vice President concluded by observing: "It is now 
the view of the War Department, in which I concur, that it is neither de- 
sirable nor feasible to relate the conclusion of the master lend-lease agree- 
ments with the attainment of the objectives desired by the War Depart- 
ment." This was not a complete statement of the War Department's posi- 
tion. The War Department had withdrawn its request because it could get 
what it wanted more rapidly through direct negotiation, but it still believed 
that military advantages could legitimately be sought in political negotia- 
tions conducted by the Department of State or in any other project spon- 
sored by an agency of the United States Government. When the War 
Department learned in January 1942 that the Department of Agriculture was 
planning to spend a half billion dollars for surplus Latin American com- 
modities, the War Plans Division promptly drafted another letter for the 
Secretary of War's signature requesting Vice President Wallace to consider 
the promotion of specific military advantages in any negotiation that occurred 
in consequence of the Department of Agriculture's project. The Vice Presi- 
dent's response was evasive. While acknowledging "our failure to supply 
the Republics of Latin America with the necessary munitions of war under 

Ltr, Secy State to Vice President, 1 J Dec 41, WPD 4115-62. The other papers on this sub- 
ject are to be found in this WPD file and in AG J80 (5-18-40), Sec. 1. 



lend-lease is probably ... an important reason for their reluctance to co- 
operate with us," he did not commit himself to the support of any specific 
War Department proposals." 

Arms Supply After Pearl Harbor 

Pearl Harbor naturally upset the plans and schedules for Latin American 
arms supply. In an informal memorandum to Mr. Orme Wilson of the De- 
partment of State, in connection with a Cuban arms request. Colonel Ridg- 
way frankly stated: "The great demands for military equipment resulting 
from Japan's attacks have made it practically impossible to find anything for 
immediate or even reasonably prompt delivery to Latin American repub- 
lics." When this statement was called to Under Secretary of State Welles's 
attention, he decided to put the question before President Roosevelt for de- 
cision. Although acknowledging the paramount needs of United States forces, 
he stated: 

I nevertheless believe that a failure by the United States to agree to furnish limited 
quantities of military materiel to the American republics . . . would have an exceedingly 
unfortunate effect and would be seized upon by our enemies to create an atmosphere of 
doubt and fear which would hardly be conducive to the success of the meeting of Foreign 
Ministers at Rio de Janeiro in January or to the continuing cooperation of the other 
American republics with this Government in our war effort. ... I feel strongly that the 
amounts of material necessary, even though reduced from the original schedules, to main- 
tain the confidence of the American countries in the United States ability to deliver arc 
very modest compared with our total war output. 

Mr. Hopkins referred Mr. Welles's plea to General Burns, who consulted 
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Richard C. Moore and Colonel Ridgway in 
preparing a response for the President's signature. In effect, the Army ans- 
wered Mr. Welles's letter. The President's letter stated that many items of 
raw and semifinished materials could be furnished the Latin Americans imme- 
diately without interfering with other essential requirements; inevitably there 
would be a delay in providing them with military material, "but this type of 
aid should, however, begin as soon as possible." Colonel Ridgway noted that 
the President's "decision" hardly solved the dilemma of Latin American arms 
supply, since almost all of the Army lend-lease material that they had re- 
quested consisted of finished munitions and not "raw materials and semi- 
finished materials." " 

Memo, WPD for CofS, J Jan 42; Ltr, SW to Vice President Wallace, 6 Jan 42; Ltr, Vice 
President Wallace to SW, 16 Jan 42. All in WPD 41 15-76. 

Memo, Col Ridgway, WPD, for Ln Office, Dept of State, 14 Dec 41, WPD 4358-14. 
" Ltr, Under Secy State Welles to President, 24 Dec 41; Ltr, President to Mr. Welles, 6 Jan 
42, and accompanying papers and memos. All in JAB 5-28 (OPD Misc 36). 



Despite the discouraging outlook for any early deliveries, the Army went 
ahead with the preparation of a new Latin American arms program consistent 
with the division of funds by categories and countries as proposed in Octo- 
ber 1941. The objective was at least to obligate the expenditure of the 
$100,000,000 for Army material provided by the second lend-lease appropria- 
tion act, with actual procurement to occur as soon as feasible.^*^ The War 
Plans Division summarized the Army's objective in the following words: 
"We are acutely aware of the needs of the American republics, are highly 
sympathetic with their requests, and will supply these requests at the earliest 
possible moment that our resources will permit." 

In fact, there was not a great deal that the United States could do about 
supplying the Latin American nations with modern military equipment dur- 
ing the first year of its active participation in the war. After Pearl Harbor 
the Latin American republics redoubled their pleas for such items as anti- 
aircraft guns and combat aircraft to protect their coasts against attack, but 
in view of its own critical shortages the United States could not furnish them 
with any modern equipment of that sort. The Latin Americans did not want 
the coast defense guns the United States could offer. To ease South Ameri- 
can fears Under Secretary of State Welles, as already noted, was authorized 
during the Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers to offer the 
coastal countries some advanced training planes equipped for reconnaissance 
and bombardment duty, and the United States also agreed to expedite de- 
liveries on various items of ground equipment for the Brazilian and Chilean 
Armies.^* In February and March 1942 Brazil obtained some further pledges 
of early deliveries.'' Generally speaking, during the period of real danger in 
1942 the other Latin American countries had to rely on the military means 
they already had and on the assistance of United States forces in an emergency. 

Nevertheless, the United States continued to plan for future deliveries. 
Between August 1941 and March 1943 the Department of State negotiated 
basic lend-lease agreements with eighteen of the Latin American countries, 
granting credits totaling more than $425,000,000, all but $100,000,000 of 
which was to be spent on Army-type munitions. The agreements also con- 
tained clauses stating in effect that the United States proposed to begin de- 
liveries immediately and to continue them as expeditiously as practicable 
during the ensuing twelve months. In most instances it proved to be impos- 

" The progress and objectives of the new program are described in WPD interoffice memos 
of 12 and 15 Dec 41. Both in OPD Misc 15. 

" Me mo, WPD for G-2, 16 Dec 41, WPD 4115-68. 
'» W irh VTtT I. above. 
See |Ch. Xllj below. 



sible to make any substantial deliveries within twelve months for reasons 
generally well understood by Latin American representatives in Washington 
though not by their governments back home. In any event the Latin Ameri- 
can countries assumed that the United States had committed itself to de- 
livering military material to the amount of the credit granted as soon as it 
could, whatever the war outlook when deliveries became possible. The agree- 
ments provided for a partial repayment of the cost of materials actually 

The United States did not attempt during the war to make any arrange- 
ments for receiving reciprocal aid from the Latin American nations. Their 
governments did not have the means to finance such aid, and many of the 
localities in which the armed forces of the United States operated did not 
have the resources for local supply anyway.*' These reasons, plus the con- 
sideration "that the American Republics had given . . . the United States 
so many strategic military and naval advantages of incalculable value," con- 
vinced Department of State and lend-lease representatives "that it would 
be impolite, unwise, and improper to expect or ask for an additional con- 
tribution" from the Latin American countries in the form of reverse lend- 

In making deliveries of munitions to the Latin American countries after 
January 1942, the United States adhered to the policy adopted in late 194l 
of not supplying them with heavy, offensive-type weapons and chemical war- 
fare toxic agents. Again Brazil was an exception, because of its character as 
a fighting ally and the preparations under way for sending a Brazilian expe- 
ditionary force overseas. No other Latin American nation received any 
chemical agents of the proscribed variety, any medium or heavy bombardment 
airplanes, any bombs above 100 pounds' weight, any medium or heavy tanks, 
or any heavy artillery except the 155-mm. guns turned over by the 56th Coast 
Artillery Regiment to Peru, Venezuela, and Chile in 1942 and 1943.*' 

From the beginning it had been United States policy to grant lend-lease aid 
to the Latin American nations only in the form of military equipment and serv- 
ices, and these only for purposes of hemisphere defense. The sole departures 

'"ASF Int Div, Lend-Lease, II, 1231ff. 

" For example, the coast artillery battery sent to Venezuela (discussed in the preceding 
chapter) found it to be virtually impossible to buy many supplies locally. Most of the things the 
battery wanted were items that Venezuela itself had to import, and the Venezuelans naturally 
could not see why they should have to supply imported articles to the United States garrison. 
His Sec, CDC, Military Collaboration, C.D.C.-Venezuela During World War II, pp. 71-73. 

" Army Services Forces International Division, MS, History of Reciprocal Aid, 9 May 1941-31 
December 1945 (revised), pp. 56-57, quoting minutes of meeting, between Department of State 
and Foreign Economic Administration representatives, 16 September 1943. 

»' Statements based on various tables in Lend-Lease Shipments, V^orld VCar I!. 



from this policy were made in the case of the two that waged war on the Axis 
overseas— Brazil and Mexico. Early in 15)43 President Roosevelt authorized the 
Army to help train and equip Brazilian ground and air units for overseas serv- 
ice; subsequently, the President approved similar aid for a Mexican aviation 
squadron. The extensive and wholehearted co-operation of Brazil and Mexico 
with United States military and naval operations in the Western Hemisphere 
likewise qualified them for special consideration in lend-lease aid.*"* Allocations 
to Brazil and Mexico accounted for more than 70 percent of the $125,000,000 
worth of military equipment that the United States Army assigned to Latin 
American nations before June 1943. Compared with 1941 plans, this total 
represented for Latin America as a whole about two thirds of the projected 
supply of military aircraft and air accessories, but less than one third of the 
planned supply of ground arms. The Latin American nations other than Brazil 
and Mexico had been assigned only about one fourth of the arms that the 
1941 program and the basic lend-lease agreements had specified they might 

Although war production in the United States finally reached a level in 
the spring of 1943 that permitted regular deliveries of arms to Latin America, 
by that time the fundamental change in the strategic outlook raised the ques- 
tion of whether or not it was desirable to continue to supply these nations 
with arms as originally planned. The containment of Japanese expansion in 
the Pacific followed by the successful invasion of North Africa had all but 
ended the possibility of a major attack on the Western Hemisphere. War 
and State Department spokesmen agreed in June 1943 that there was very 
little reason to keep up the supply of arms to Latin America for the purpose 
of hemisphere defense. As foreseen in 1941, the allocations to some states 
were beginning to arouse the jealousy and distrust of others. At the request 
of Under Secretary of State Welles, the Army's Operations Division drafted 
a revised statement of policy to govern the supply of lend-lease material to 
Latin America, and the Navy and State Departments approved this statement 
on 6 August 15>43. The revised policy, adhered to by the United States with 
only minor exceptions during the last two years of the war, called for the 
continued military equipment of the Latin American countries for the fol- 
lowing wartime purposes: 

(1) The continued development and preparation of such Latin American ground, naval, 
and air forces with their supporting establishments and installations as may be required 
for joint employment with forces of the United Nations in anti-submarine and other mili- 
tary operations in defense of our common interests. 

See Chs.[5aIland |XIIl| below. 

Statements based on table in Memo, OPD for DCofS, 8 Jun 43, SLC Min, Vol. IV. 



(2) The training and equipping of such Latin American forces as may be employed 
in conjunction with forces of the United Nations in oflFcnsivc operations overseas. 

(3) The repair and maintenance, insofar as may be practicable, of existing equipment 
and that to be furnished in the future. 

(4) The furnishing of munitions and equipment of type and in the quantities best de- 
signed to maintain internal stability in those countries whose governments continue to 
support the United States."'' 

In Sepcmber, again at the Department of State's urging, the Army and Navy 
revived the Joint Advisory Board on American Republics and gave it the 
task of spelling out the new Latin American arms policy in greater detail. 
Its handiwork became the basis for formal action by the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
at the end of 1943.*^ In brief, the Army's policy during 1944 was to reduce 
lend-lease aid to Latin America to the greatest possible extent, except to those 
nations contributing directly to the war effort.*' 

Various considerations nevertheless continued to make small allotments 
of military equipment to most of the Latin American nations necessary dur- 
ing the last two years of war, and the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in par- 
ticular required large quantities of American material and assistance. Thus, 
the ultimate dollar value of Army aid to Latin American under lend-lease 
during the war reached a total of about $324,000,000— somewhat more than 
that contemplated in the 1941 program and almost exactly the amount speci- 
fied in the basic lend-lease agreements of 1941-43. About 71 percent of this 
total represented military aid to Brazil.^^ The final tabulation of all lend-lease 
aid granted to the American republics during and after the war amounted to 
about $500,000,000, and by 1948 they had repaid the United States nearly 

It would be both improper and impossible to use a financial accounting 
of lend-lease aid as a measure of the true worth of inter- American solidarity 

Statement of Policy Regarding Future Supply of Lend Lease Materials to Lat Amer as Agreed 
upon by the State, War, and Navy Depts, 6 Aug 43, copy in G-4 400.3295, Vol. 1. For back- 
ground, see: Memo, Chief Lat Amer Theater OPD for ACofS OPD, 6 Aug 43, and attachments, 
OPD 400.3295 (6 Aug 43); Memo, OPD for DCofS, 8 Jun 43; Notes on SLC mtg, 14 Jun 43 
(recording remarks of Mr. Welles and General McNarney). Last two in SLC Min, Vol. IV. For 
a comprehensive review of the problems of Army supply to Latin America toward the end of the 
war, see: Report of seminar held at Army Industrial College, 21 Dec 44, ASF Int Div 337 Confs, 
Vol. V. 

" Various papers, G-4 400.3295, Vols. I and IV. 

«» OPD Note for Record, 25 Mar 44, and OPD Memo for Record, 11 Sep 44, both contain 
statements almost identical in language with that made in the text above. Both in OPD 400.3295, 
Case 28. 

Carrel I. Tod and Anne P. Croft, under direction of Theodore E. Whiting, Lend-Lease sec- 
tion of Statistics, a volume to be published in series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD 
WAR II, Table LL-7. 

'° H. Doc. 568, 80th Cong., 2d Sess., Twenty-Fifth Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations, 
pp. 4-7. 



during World War II. Many other items would have to be considered on 
both sides of the ledger. Sixteen of the Latin American nations sanctioned 
the development in their territory of air and naval bases that were available 
to United States forces for regular or emergency use during the war. All 
of Latin America joined in rendering economic aid of incalculable value to 
the war effort of the United Nations. The United States helped Latin America 
in many ways other than the supply of military and naval equipment and 
services. Nevertheless, although aid of the latter sort amounted to only 1 
percent of the total expenditures of the United States Government under the 
lend-lease program, it went a long way toward assuring the military collabora- 
tion of the American nations during and after the war. 


Air Defense Preparations in Latin 


As one important means of improving New World military ties, the Army 
had recommended in May 1938 that the United States Government take a 
more active hand in backing commercial aviation interests of the United States 
in Latin America.' Following President Roosevelt's enunciation of the policy 
of hemisphere defense in November 1938, with its emphasis on air defense 
the military planners recognized that the Army must take a broader interest 
in Latin American air development.^ Thereafter during the prewar period, 
Army plans and preparations for air defense centered around the attainment 
of three major objectives in the Latin American area: elimination of com- 
mercial airlines owned, controlled, or manned by Axis nationals, and their 
replacement by United States or locally controlled companies; development 
of airfields and airway facilities of a nature tnat would permit the projection 
of American military airpower into strategic areas; and other preparations 
that would permit air operations to begin at once in the event of an actual 
or imminently threatened hostile air attack. 

The American-controlled Pan American Airways system had achieved a 
dominant role in Latin American commercial aviation by 1938, largely with- 
out any official backing from the United States Government except that 
granted through substantial mail subsidies. Pan American operated all of the 
lines in the West Indian and Central American regions, and it had an inter- 
national service that circled the South American continent. In South America 
its position was being vigorously and increasingly challenged, especially by 
airlines subsidized by the German and Italian Governments. The physical 
geography of Latin America, together with the meager development of other 
forms of transportation, made commercial aviation far more important there 
than in the United States or other parts of the Western World. Because of 
this dependence on aviation, Latin American governments and peoples were 
peculiarly susceptible to the influence that foreign aviation interests might 

' Incl to Ltf . SW to Secy State, 20 May 38, AG 336 (2-12-38). See |Ch. VIIl] above. 
^ See ICh. I.I above. 



exercise. The stage was set for a struggle for control that was to be waged 
during the prewar period ostensibly by private commercial interests, but in 
reality by the United States Government and the aggressor nations of the 
Old World.' 

The Control of Civil Aviation 

The Army in June 1938 had again urged that it was "highly important 
that the United States Government . . . give close attention to the non- 
American aviation developments in Latin America, and that every reasonable 
effort be made to assist United States commercial aviation (or local or Latin 
American owned) interests when disadvantageous situations arise." Specifi- 
cally, the Army proposed that the United States Government help American 
aviation interests by building airfields and improving their facilities, by estab- 
lishing meteorological and weather stations, and by training Latin- American 
nationals in American civilian aviation schools.'' While Pan American had 
already shown its willingness to allow it facilities to be used by American 
military planes, as for example in the good-will flight of Flying Fortresses 
to Buenos Aires in February 1938, they were not adequate for normal mili- 
tary operations. Pan American airfields were not equipped for night flying 
and were too small for the larger types of military planes. If the United States 
wished to help local national airlines as a means of offsetting foreign com- 
petition, it would have to grant them direct or indirect subsidies. 

The Department of State at this time was loath to agree to "any sort of 
policy which could be interpreted as evidence of a military interest of this 
Government in civil aviation in Latin America," although it admitted that 
some greater degree of support for American aviation might be desirable.' 
The creation of the Civil Aeronautics Authority in July 1938, with powers 
to co-ordinate and administer all aviation policies, furnished both a vehicle 
for exploring what could and should be done with respect to Latin American 
aviation and an excuse for postponing the whole problem until the new 
authority was prepared to tackle it. The War Department's suggestions were 
effectively side-tracked until the following spring.'^ 

' On Latin American aviation development and the contest for aviation control, 1939-41, see 
William A. M. Burden, The Struggle for Airways in Latin America (New York: Council on 
Foreign Relations, 1943) (hereafter cited as Struggle for Airways); Matthew Josephson, Empire 
of the Air (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944); and Oliver J. Lissitzyn, Interna- 
tional Air Transport and National Policy (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1942) 
(hereafter cited as International Air Transport), Ch. XIII. 

" Incl 2 to Memo, Maj Edward M. Almond tor CofS, 30 Jun 38, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 15. 

' Remarks of Dept of State rep at Jt Secretariat mtg, 15 Jun 38, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 10. 

' Notes on SLC mtg, 11 Jul 38, Item 17; Notes on Jt Secretariat mtg, 26 Sep 38, Item 18. 
Both in SLC Min, Vol. I 



President Roosevelt took the initiative in reopening the question of Latin 
American aviation in March 1939 by instructing Secretary of Commerce 
Hopkins to inform the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the "President's in- 
terest in the formulation of a broad plan for the expansion of aeronautics 
in the Western Hemisphere." The Authority thereupon drafted a tentative 
plan, dated 29 March 1939, which had as its central feature the creation of 
a holding corporation in the United States, with subsidiaries in each of the 
Latin American countries, that would finance the purchase of all foreign- 
owned local airlines in each country and ultimately nationalize them. The 
United States Government, either directly or indirectly, would furnish the 
estimated capital of $25,000,000 necessary to accomplish this purpose.* An 
interdepartmental discussion of the plan led to the creation of a special com- 
mittee, with Mr. G. Grant Mason of the Civil Aeronautics Authority as 
chairman and with representatives from the War, Navy, and State Depart- 
ments, to consider and revise these proposals. The revised plan was approved 
by all interested agencies between May and July 1939 and by President 
Roosevelt on 10 August.^ 

The War Plans Division made an exhaustive study of the original Civil 
Aeronautics Authority plan and, though heartily agreeing with its primary 
objective of supporting American aviation interests and eliminating German 
and Italian, judged it faulty in many particulars and impracticable of achieve- 
ment. The planners' main objections were that the plan did not provide for 
the "control of secure and suitable bases, the essential need for air operations 
in South America," and that it would not eliminate German and Italian inter- 
national airlines, only the local services."* The plan as revised dropped the 
idea of a holding corporation and in fact amounted to little more than an 
enumeration of objectives similar to those proposed by the Army in June 
1938. After the President's approval of these objectives in August 1939, the 
Department of State took the lead in calling several meetings of the inter- 
departmental committee established in the spring. The conferees agreed at 
meetings on 1 and 5 September 1939 that the United States should actively 
promote the ownership of all feeder airlines in Latin America either by 
American or by bona fide locally owned companies. They also agreed that 
the Department of State should take the initiative through diplomatic chan- 

' IncI to Ltr, Chairman CAA to SW, 21 May 40, WPD 4113-14. 
* A copy of the CAA plan is in AG 580 (3-27-39). 

' Memo, ASW Johnson for Maj Gen Malin Craig, 27 Mar 39, and subsequent exchanges, 
AG 580 (3-27-39); Memo, WPD for CofS, 23 May 39, WPD 4113-6, summarizes the revised 
plan; Incl, title: Chronology of Events Relating to Adoption of the Plan for Aeronautical Im- 
provement in the Western Hemisphere, to Ltr, Chairman CAA to SW, 21 May 40, WPD 4113-14. 

■° Memo, WPD for CofS, 3 Apr 39, WPD 4113-1. 



nels to work toward this goal. Very little more was actually done before the 
critical events of May 1940 stimulated specific and immediate action. 

During 1939 the Army was immediately concerned over the airline situa- 
tion in Colombia, where the local SCADTA feeder system was largely manned 
and ostensibly controlled by Germans.'^ Actually, Pan American had pur- 
chased an 84 percent interest in SCADTA as early as 1931 but kept its con- 
nection secret from the Colombian and the United States Governments until 
January 1939- Even when Pan American's control became known, the Ameri- 
can company was reluctant to liquidate the German operation of the system. 
Both the Army and the Department of State considered continued German 
operation highly inimical to the national interest of the United States be- 
cause of Colombia's proximity to the Panama Canal. This was one problem 
tackled by a subcommittee of the interdepartmental air committee in the fall 
of 1939, and with eventual success. Pan American publicly acknowledged its 
ownership and started to purge SCADTA of its German personnel in Novem- 
ber 1939. In June 1940 Pan American, in collaboration with Department of 
State and Colombian authorities, was able to eliminate most of the German 
influence and establish a new company, AVIANCA, jointly owned by Pan 
American and the Colombian Government. In the meantime, German pilots 
and other workers who were released from SCADTA set up another airline, 
ARCO, which was bought out by AVIANCA in 1941 after the War and 
State Departments had promised to repay Pan American for the expense that 
it had incurred in "de-Germanizing" the Colombian airlines." 

Pan American held a t-jvo-thirds interest in AVIANCA after June 1940, 
although the arrangement made between the Colombian and United States 
Governments called for eventual nationalization of the line through majority 
stock ownership by the Colombian Government or Colombian citizens. The 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 23 May 39, WPD 41 13-6; Memo, WPD for CofS, 30 Aug 39; Memos, 
Col Handy for ACofS WPD, 2 and 5 Sep 39. Last two in WPD 4113-8. Incl to Ltr, Chairman 
CAA to SW, 21 May 40, WPD 4113-14. 

For authoritative accounts of the nature and extent of foreign-controlled airline operations 
in Latin America before 1942, see Burden, Struggle for Airways, and Lissitzyn, International Air 
Transport, pp. 334-47. Latin American commercial airlines were customarily known by abbrevia- 
tions of their lengthy official names and are so referred to in this text. For a list of abbreviations 
and full names of aviation companies operating in Latin America before 1942, see Burden, Strug- 
gle for Airways, p. xxiii and listing inside its back cover. 

" Army records contain a good deal of information on this subject, supplementing the various 
published accounts. On the situation in the fall of 1939, see especially: WPD Memo for Record, 
24 Oct 39, WPD 4113-9; and Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 22 Nov 39, WPD 4113-8. The best over- 
all summaries are the memorandums composed by Col. Clayton L. Bissell (1 Apr 42) and Maj. 
J. D. GiUett (5 Apr 42) of OPD, in WPD 4257. See also: Lissitzyn, International Air Trans- 
port, pp. 331-32; Burden, Struggle for Airways, pp. ll-li; Josephson, Empire of the Air, pp. 
157-59; and Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 274-75. 



promise to reimburse AVIANCA led to an involved negotiation between 
the War Department and Pan American. The Army wanted some further 
assurances before it paid off this obligation, including the dismissal of all 
German employees (some of whom were employed in office work as late as 
December 1941), an agreement that AVIANCA's airport facilities would be 
available for military use if necessary, and a pledge by the Colombian Gov- 
ernment to AVIANCA that it would not charter any new airline that would 
pose further complications. The Army was concerned on this latter score 
because many of the dismissed German pilots and other employees were still 
in Colombia at the end of 1941; both Colombia and the United States 
had wanted to ship them back to Germany, but the British had strenuously 
objected since they had more than enough German pilots to deal with already. 
In the spring of 1942 the Germans were interned either in Colombia or in the 
United States. After Pearl Harbor Colombia agreed to permit Pan American 
to retain majority ownership of AVIANCA until 1944, thereby giving the 
United States a more effective control over the Colombian air simation. 
Colombia was also prepared in 1942 to permit American military planes to 
use its airports in essential hemisphere defense operations. Thus assured, in 
August 1942 the United States agreed to pay Pan American from Army funds 
a sum of nearly $1,000,000 for the de-Germanization of Colombian airlines 
carried out during 1940 and 1941.^^ 

A different method of eliminating German aviation in Latin America was 
used in neighboring Ecuador. Though the German-owned local line in 
Ecuador, SEDTA, operated with only two obsolete transports as its "fleet," 
it provided an indispensable service to Ecuador's economy. When SEDTA 
in May 1940 applied for a permit to establish a service from the mainland 
to the Galapagos Islands, in which the United States had already indicated 
its strategic interest, the American government was moved to action. Presi- 
dent Roosevelt in June authorized the loan of funds to Pan American-Grace 
Airways (Panagra), Pan American's associate, to enable it to establish a com- 
peting line. Panagra inaugurated its service in December 1940, with equipment 
and service superior to that provided by the German line. Nevertheless, 
SEDTA managed to operate a reduced service until Ecuador requisitioned 
its planes and property in September 1941. The Army contributed to the de- 
sired end not only by backing the Panagra line but also by establishing an 

Memos of Col Bissell and Maj Gillett, cited in lfootnote 13l above; various papers in WPD 
4257 and AG 580.81 (1-17-41). The final settlement called for the payment of $922,666.00, 
compared with the bill for $1,217,872.54 submitted by Pan American in 1941. 



Ecuadoran Air Mission and allocating enough money to it to permit the 
mission to help in the improvement of Ecuadoran airfield facilities.'' 

The ousting of German aviation from Colombia and Ecuador was a note- 
worthy gain for the security of the Panama Canal, but only a halting step 
toward the broader goal of eliminating all Axis influence in Latin American 
aviation. To achieve this goal required the formulation and execution of a 
much more systematic aviation policy and program for Latin America than 
that followed by the United States to the beginning of 1941. President 
Roosevelt was dissatisfied with what had been accomplished during 1940, 
and it was probably at his instigation that Mr. Rockefeller, the Coordinator 
of Commercial and Cultural Relations Between the American Republics, 
proposed expansion of the authority of the Civil Aeronautics Board so that 
it could, under the supervision of a new interdepartmental committee, carry 
out an effective de-Germanization program designed to supplant all Axis- 
controlled airlines by American or locally controlled companies.'^ The War 
Department promptly indorsed Mr. Rockefeller's proposal, and the Chief of 
Staff in doing so stated: 

The matter is one of vital importance to national defense. We all agree that German 
controlled airlines in South America provide Germany with the means for spreading Nazi 
propaganda, for communication with German agents and sympathizers in South America, 
and for familiarizing German military personnel with South American terrain. They also 
provide bases which would be of great strategic value to an invader. Consequently, these 
airlines constitute a definite threat to the security of the United States in the event of war 
with Germany." 

While Mr. Rockefeller's proposal was still under consideration, the Presi- 
dent directed the Postmaster General to consult with representatives of all 
interested government agencies in the formulation of a general policy toward 
commercial aviation. At a meeting on 19 February the conferees decided that 
the Army and Navy should study the question and make recommendations. 
The Army's representative thereupon drafted a recommendation on general 
aviation policy and obtained Navy and State Department concurrences. This 
policy statement, which the President approved in early March, became the 
basis for effective action in eliminating Axis influence from Latin American 
commercial aviation. With respect to Latin America, the new policy pro- 

Burden, Struggle for Airways, pp. 7J-74; Historical Section, Caribbean Defense Command, 
MS, United States Military Mission (Ground and Air) Republic of Ecuador, "The Aviation 
Mission," pp. 5-6. 

Remarks of Under Secy State Welles at SLC mtg, J Jan 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 1; Ltr, 
Mr. Rockefeller to Gen Marshall, 29 Jan 41, WPD 4257. The Civil Aeronautics Board had 
absorbed the work of the Civil Aeronautics Authority in June 1940. 

Ltr, CofS to Mr. Rockefeller, 1 Feb 41, OCS 9136-61. 



vided that: (l)the United States Government would oppose the estaWish- 
ment of any new services by United States airlines south of Mexico City that 
would be in competition with Pan American; (2) until European-controlled 
airlines in Latin America were eliminated, no action should be taken to 
lessen the strength and effectiveness of the Pan American Airways system as 
an instrument in accomplishing their elimination; and (3), while the needs 
of the armed services must have priority on airplane equipment and person- 
nel during the emergency, subject to this qualification all government agencies 
should lend all possible assistance to the Department of State "in the elimi- 
nation of European controlled airlines in the Western Hemisphere south of 
the United States, and in replacing them by United States controlled 

After approval of the new policy, the Department of State took the lead 
in arranging for allocation from emergency funds of money to finance the 
nationalization of airlines in central and southern South America and in try- 
ing to obtain assurances from the Army that planes for the airlines would be 
forthcoming. It also formulated a new plan that called for the application 
of the Colombian precedent to the rest of South America — that is, the estab- 
lishment of new companies jointly controlled by American and local-national 
ownership. The Bureau of the Budget, with the President's approval, allo- 
cated $8,000,000 in April to pay for de-Germanization measures. Instead of 
enlarging the authority of the Civil Aeronautics Board to administer these 
measures, as Mr. Rockefeller had proposed (and as the new statement of avia- 
tion policy had also recommended) , the American Republics Aviation Division 
was set up in the Defense Supplies Corporation, a subsidiary of the Recon- 
struction Finance Corporation. The division became responsible both for 
disbursement of funds and for provision of airplanes and technicians to 
American and locally owned Latin American airlines. 

Because of the shortage of transport planes, the Army in the spring of 
1941 was attempting to secure the curtailment of airlines in the United 
States and to obtain their planes for Army use. Despite the shortage the Army 
promised in April to release five planes to equip a new Panagra subsidiary in 
Bolivia and soon thereafter committed itself to furnishing four more planes to 
permit de-Germanization of the VASP line in Brazil.^" It also promised to 
furnish pilots for the Bolivian operation by releasing Reserve officers then 

'8 Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 Feb 41; Ltr, SW to Postmaster General, 3 Mar 41. Botb in 
WPD 4442. 

Memo, Dept of State for WPD, 2 Apr 41, and Incl, WPD 4257; Memo, Dept of State 
for WPD, 10 May 4l, WPD 4113-33; Burden, Struggle for Airways, p. 71. 

Ltr, SW to Secy State, 7 Apr 41, and subsequent exchanges, AG 580 (4-7-41). 



on active duty with the Air Corps and to continue its practice of allowing 
graduates of the Air Corps Advanced Flying School to volunteer for service 
as pilots with Pan American and its subsidiaries.^' In June the Army decided 
to purchase for Army Air Corps use all German planes from discontinued 
lines in order to eliminate any possibility of their future employment in Latin 
America. Negotiations toward this end were still in progress on the eve of 
Pearl Harbor. Thereafter, the almost solid front of the Americas made pos- 
sible the application of more direct methods of putting an end to all German 
aviation activity. 

The United States Government during 1940 and 1941 backed the Pan 
American Airways system as the vehicle for obtaining air control in Latin 
America for reasons of military necessity rather than of choice. In Novem- 
ber 1940 General Marshall and Admiral Stark told Under Secretary of State 
Welles that they regarded active support of Pan American as essential to 
the national defense, and it was on this basis only that Mr. Welles agreed 
"to back Pan American to the limit." " Of necessity, too, backing Pan 
American meant the strengthening of its monopoly in the Latin American 

The problem of American airline competition amidst defense preparations 
had come to the fore in Central America in the fall of 1940. A local British- 
owned airline, TACA, had applied for permission to extend its service to the 
commercial landing field in the Panama Canal Zone. Behind this application 
was a broader scheme of American Export Airlines, which contracted in Oao- 
ber 1940 to purchase TACA, and which planned to connect its local airlines 
with the continental United States as well as to extend them throughout the 
Caribbean area. Pan American met this challenge by fighting the TACA- 
American Export project before the Civil Aeronautics Board and by estab- 
lishing feeder lines in Central America that duplicated TACA's services. This 
fight between competing American airlines in a sensitive hemisphere defense 
zone presented both soldiers and diplomats with a complicated situation re- 
quiring difficult policy decisions.^* 

2> Ltr, SW CO Vice President, Panagra, 4 Jun 41, WPD 4113-33. General Marshall had ap- 
proved this practice in November 1940. Notes on Confs in OCS, 15 and 23 Nov 40, OCS Conf 
Binder, OPD files. 

22 WPD Note for Record, 18 Jun 4l, WPD 4113-106; Memo, CofAAF for Def Supplies 
Corp, 10 Nov 41, WPD 4113-135. 

" Notes on SLC mtg, 23 Nov 40, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 65 . 

2'' Lissitzyn, International Air Transport, pp. 242-43, 312-14; Josephson, Empire of the Air, 
pp. 173-76; Burden, Struggle for Airways, pp. 145-46. Contemporary Army documents reflecting 
the character of the contest include: Memo, Col Bissell for ACofS WPD, 8 Feb 41, OCS 9136-64; 
OCS Memo for Record, 25 Feb 41, WPD 4113-60; and Memo, WPD for ASW Lovett, 26 Apr 
41, WPD 4113-82. 



The military services and the Department of State had at first opposed 
TACA's request to enter the Canal Zone, since the entry of foreign-owned 
airlines into the Zone was contrary to existing policy. In June 1S>40 General 
Van Voorhis, commander of the Panama Canal Department, urged recon- 
sideration. He stated that the owner of TACA was strongly pro-ally and 
pro-American and that most of the airline's employees were Americans. Even 
more to the point was TACA's control of a network of landing fields— 115 
of them in actual service— throughout the five Central American republics, 
many of which were equipped with radio facilities. In view of these facts, 
TACA held a position in which it could render invaluable assistance in sur- 
veillance and in aiding Army air operations. To win TACA's support by 
granting it the right of entry into the Canal Zone made excellent common 
sense to General Van Voorhis." 

When the American Export Company proposed to buy TACA, the State, 
War, and Navy Departments all approved the move, and they decided also 
to approve TACA's entry into the Canal Zone as soon as the company had 
been Americanized. Among other reasons, the War Department specifically 
approved American Export's proposed purchase of TACA because it promised 
to lead to competition between two large American companies in Latin 
American commercial aviation. In late December 1940 the Army gave an 
American Export representative cautious assurances that the Pan American 
contract signed the preceding month did not commit the War Department 
to back Pan American exclusively in other directions.^'' The evident blessing 
being bestowed by agencies of the United States Government on TACA 
induced Pan American to redouble its efforts to eliminate its Central Ameri- 
can competitor altogether. Pan American succeeded in ousting TACA from 
Guatemala and so handicapped its position elsewhere that it appeared to the 
Army that American Export might lose interest in its acquisition. The Army 
and the Navy continued throughout 1941 to advocate the purchase of TACA 
by American Export, or its Americanization by other means. But after the 
enunciation of a Latin American air policy in March 1941, with its caveat 
against backing any new American competition with Pan American south of 
Mexico City until Axis-controlled lines had been eliminated in South America, 
the military services felt obliged to oppose American Export's application for a 
through route between New Orleans and the Canal Zone. The establishment 

^' WPD interoffice memo, 1 Aug 40, AG 580.81 (11-1-40). This file and WPD 1162-68 
contain background information in the TACA application. See also Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 
Dec 40, WPD 4113-47. 

" Notes on SLC mtg, 23 Nov 40, StC Min, Vol. I, Item 65; Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Dec 
40; Memo, Col Bissell for ACofS WPD, 31 Dec 40. Last two in WPD 4113-47. 



of such a trunk line was as basic to the American Export interest as it was 
antipathetic to that of Pan American Airways, for it would have linked up 
with Panagra, which was showing increasing irritation over its family con- 
nection with Pan American." 

American Export's application to acquire TACA was finally disapproved 
by the Civil Aeronautics Board on 4 December 1941, though not on the 
ground of its threat of competition with Pan American Airways. Neverthe- 
less, prompted by continued urgings from the War Department, the board 
on 24 December approved TACA's entry into the Canal Zone.^*" This action, 
together with the Army's more or less open partiality toward TACA, as- 
sured that airline's continued co-operation with the military authorities in 
Panama during the war. The position of the services and of the Department 
of State toward the American Export-Pan American contest had also indi- 
cated rather clearly that they would have preferred to foster competition 
among American airline companies in Latin America if the exigencies of the 
prewar situation had permitted such action. 

Axis-controlled aviation at the beginning of 1941 had centered in Brazil, 
from which it radiated southward and westward to the Pacific coast. The 
German CONDOR line, serving the Brazilian coast and the interior of 
southern South America, was old and well-established. Transatlantic flying 
in 1941 was limited to a weekly service provided by the Italian LATI line, 
which operated from Europe via the Cape Verdes to Natal and Rio de 
Janeiro— a service patronized largely by Axis agents. From Natal southward 
along the Brazilian coast, LATI and the Vichy-dominated Air France com- 
pany controlled airfield facilities that menaced American hemisphere defense 
projects in Brazil and posed an acute menace to British shipping and the 
maintenance of the British patrol against Axis shipping in the South 
Atlantic. In the spring of 1941 both CONDOR and LATI were under strong 
suspicion of performing more or less regular reconnaissance off the coast to 
spot British naval vessels and guide Axis ships through the British blockade. 
LATI's suddenly increased activity on the transatlantic route in June and July 
coincided with a heightened German submarine campaign against British 
shipping in the southern Atlantic and there was good reason to believe that 
Axis submarines were being guided by LATI's planes. During the last week 
of June 1941, six Axis merchant vessels carrying strategic war materials left 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 5 Mar 41, and Incl, WPD 4113-60; Memo, CofAAF for CofS, 7 
Oct 41; Ltr, SW to Chairman CAB, 4 Nov 41. Last two in OCS 18733-131. Ltr, SN to Chairman 
CAB, 5 Nov 41, WPD 4113-47. 

" Ltr, SW to Chairman CAB, 13 Dec 41, OCS 18733-136; Burden, Struggle for Airways, 
pp. 146-47. 



Brazil to run the British blockade, again coincident with LATI's increased 
amount of flying across the ocean. The United States Army believed that this 
direct menace to the British war effort must be stopped.^' 

To deal with this situation, the United States put CONDOR and LATI 
on its 17 July 1941 blacklist of Latin American firms with which American 
companies were forbidden to trade. Since the Germans had a supply of new 
planes and spare parts, which had been run through the British blockade in 
the spring of 1941, this move had little immediate effect. At the urging of 
the United States the Brazilian Government in October began to move 
toward taking over CONDOR and LATI, but it was reluctant to suspend 
their operations until the United States was prepared to furnish substitute 
services. When the Army's Ferrying Command operations by way of the 
South Atlantic were inaugurated in November, the continued operation by 
hostile airlines of airport ground facilities, including radio transmitters and 
meteorological services, became intolerable.'" 

With Brazilian co-operation, both LATI and CONDOR were forced out 
of business in December 1941. The Ferrying Command agreed in January 
1942 to purchase the seven LATI planes as soon as the Brazilian Govern- 
ment requisitioned them. Brazilian interests with government backing 
reorganized CONDOR, and the new company was permitted to resume 
operations in April. At the end of 1942 German and Italian equipment was 
still in use on a number of local airlines in southern South America, but all 
vestiges of Axis control had disappeared." 

In retrospect, while the de-Germanization program had been slow in 
getting under way, it had achieved the desired results by the time that the 
United States openly entered the war. Axis aviation had been virtually elim- 
inated and supplanted by American or locally owned services. While 
the small number (about forty) and obsolete character of the German trans- 
port planes and their comparatively rudimentary ground facilities had never 
constituted a really serious menace, indirectly German aviation interests had 
been able to exert an influence out of all proportion to their size in planes 
and personnel through propaganda and the maintenance of communications 
with axis diplomats and agents. Conceivably, too, the extensive German con- 
trol of airfield installations could have been used to facilitate a German air 
invasion. In 1941 Axis-dominated commercial aviation was one of Ger- 

" Memo, G-2 for CofS, 3 Jul 41, WPD 4224-167; various papers in WPD 4113-109, under 
title: Axis Operations in the "American Narrows." 

50 Various exchanges, dated October-December 1941, WPD 4113-132 and WPD 578-127. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4113-137; various papers, dated January-February 
1942, WPD 4113-149; Burden, Struggle for Airways, p. 76, and folding map inside back cover. 



many's strongest weapons in Latin America to combat American hemisphere 
defense plans and measures, and its elimination marked a huge forward stride 
in safeguarding the hemisphere against possible Axis attack. 

The Airport Development Program 

The Pan American Airways organization made its principal contribution 
to hemisphere defense preparations by developing airfields in the Latin 
American nations for United States Army and Navy use. This work began 
in the autumn of 1940, under what became known as the Airport Develop- 
ment Program, but it had its origins in the military planning of 1939, spe- 
cifically in the plan to establish a major United States air base in Puerto 
Rico.'^ Air traffic to and from this base would normally have to make use of 
intermediate airfields between the United States and Puerto Rico. Existing 
Pan American facilities at Camaguey, Cuba, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, could 
be used, but they would have to be substantially improved. The Army also 
wanted to station small detachments of mechanics and communications spe- 
cialists at each of the fields. By September 1939 the Air Corps and General 
Staff had agreed upon the facilities and services needed and on the necessity 
of providing them as soon as possible. At the outset, the Department of 
State refused to consider the lease or operation of such facilities by the Army, 
and on 6 November 1939 a Department of State spokesman also expressed 
opposition "to the installation and operation of these facilities by any United 
States Government agency." Instead he suggested that a private American 
company such as Pan American Airways might undertake the necessary work 
and operations under contract. When the Army brought the subject up 
again in January 1940, the Department of State agreed that it might be 
willing to go ahead and make suitable arrangements for the facilities desired 
either directly with the Cuban and Haitian Governments or with a private 
company. Further prodding by the War Department failed to obtain any 
action until May 1940. The agitation of the question during the preceding 
year had nevertheless narrowed down the probable choice of means to that 
of selecting a private company to do the work." 

The immediate need for the Puerto Rican air route merged during the 
fall and winter of 1939^0 with the more far-reaching plan for development 

52 See lCh. IL above. 

" Memo, WPD for G-2, 18 Jul 39; Memo, CofAC for WPD, 12 Aug 39. Both in WPD 4185. 
Various papers in WPD 4185-1, especially Ltr, SW to Secy State, 20 Jan 40, and Memo, WPD 
for Dept of State, 9 Mar 40. Notes on Conf, 6 Nov 39, in WPD Note for Record, 8 Jun 40, 
WPD 4185-5. 



of alternate air routes to the Brazilian bulge. This plan envisaged establish- 
ment of the principal air route to Brazil via Puerto Rico, Martinique, Trini- 
dad, and Dutch Guiana, with a secondary route from Texas via Panama and 
the Colombian and Venezuelan coasts. General Emmons, Commanding Gen- 
eral, General Headquarters Air Force, who led a flight of bombers to the 
Natal area in November 1939, reported that it was well suited to inten- 
sive development for Air Corps operations. By using existing airfields the 
Army could fly medium and heavy bombers to Natal, but not shorter-range 
planes. To permit the movement of all types of Army aircraft to the Brazilian 
bulge, General Emmons held that it was essential to develop a chain of air- 
fields with necessary supporting facilities for land planes along both routes.''' 
While this project would require new facilities of many sorts, the existing 
terminals and organization of the Pan American Airways system provided an 
essential basis for further development. In a separate report, Lt. Col. Robert 
Olds, who accompanied General Emmons on the Brazilian flight, stressed the 
advantages of using the Pan American system: 

The economic and military value of the Panagra-Pan American Airways System to the 
United States in its broad concept of hemispherical defense cannot be overestimated. . . . 
The concentration ... of Air Force units from North America into South America will 
depend solely under existing circumstances upon the full utilization of Pan American fa- 
cilities. . . . Whether in the form of a government subsidy or in the form of direa 
installations on a rental basis, it is mandatory that certain existing facilities of the Pan 
American System be augmented along the east coast of South America to insure the rapid 
concentration of American Air Forces in the defense of the critical Natal area." 

The final selection of Pan American Airways as the instrument for carry- 
ing out a program of airfield construction in Latin America was made only 
after a new exploration of alternative methods of doing the work. At an 
interdepartmental conference on 13 May 1940, called specifically to consider 
the immediate problem of developing an air route to Puerto Rico, the con- 
ferees agreed that the method selected for this work should be one that 
would be generally applicable to the larger Latin American airfield program. 
The solution tentatively decided upon was the establishment of a new gov- 
ernment-subsidized corporation that would construct airfields and provide 
necessary technical facilities for their military use; then, after construction had 
been completed, the Army would make a supplemental contract with Pan 
American to provide for fuel and for the servicing of planes. The execution 
of the plan would require new legislation since the Judge Advocate General 
held that the Army could not legally loan its equipment to a corporation of 
the sort proposed.'^ 

Report, CG GHQ Air Force to CofAC, n.d., transmitted in Memo, CofAC for WPD, 7 
Dec 39, WPD 4185-2. 

" Report, Col Olds to CG GHQ Air Force, 1 Dec 39, WPD 4185-2. 

Memo, Col Olds for Chief Plans Div Air Corps, 15 May 40, WPD 4113-13. 



Further study of the problem during the following week produced fovir 
alternative schemes for consideration. Listed in their order of desirability, 
they were: (1) the creation of a new United States Government agency, to 
operate under direct supervision of the Civil Aeronautics Authority; (2) a 
contract with Pan American Airways to do all the work; (3) the establish- 
ment of a new private corporation, as tentatively recommended the preceding 
week; and (4) contracts with the national governments concerned. While 
the planners would have preferred the first alternative, they pointed out that 
that solution would also require new legislation expanding the powers of the 
Civil Aeronautics Authority and permission of each nation concerned as weU. 
In view of the absolute necessity under the new strategic situation of pro- 
viding facilities as soon as possible, they therefore recommended adoption of 
the Pan American Airways scheme. In early June the Department of State 
agreed to present the question to the President for decision and did so by a 
letter dated 10 June. Sometime between then and 1 July, the President au- 
thorized the Army to go ahead with the Pan American project and to finance 
it with money from his recently voted Emergency Fund." 

In the meantime, the Joint Planning Committee had reviewed the whole 
problem of Latin American air facilities required for the execution of hemi- 
sphere defense plans, and on 24 June it submitted a report that became the 
primary guide for defining the scope and objectives of the subsequent Pan 
American contract. The report specified the airfields to be developed, and it 
stated that the fields were to be located along the coast rather than inland in 
order to facilitate their supply and the movement of land forces and equip- 
ment for their protection and also to permit Navy planes to use them. At the 
major fields, the runways should be able to accommodate all types of Army 
planes; adjacent facilities were to be provided for the operation of large Navy 
patrol planes. In addition, each major field should have auxiliary communi- 
cations, meteorological, servicing, and storage facilities.'** 

Four months of intricate negotiations preceded the signing of the con- 
tracts of 2 November 1940 with Pan American Airways. The effort to keep 
the project a secret was a partial failure almost from the beginning. On 10 
July 1940 the Washington Post reported that the President had authorized 
the expenditure of emergency funds for a Latin American airport program to 
be carried out by Pan American Airways. "The plan," continued this Post 
report, "is to have the airline do what the Government itself cannot accom- 
plish without endless red tape and time-consuming diplomatic negotiation. 

Report of subcommittee on Caribbean Airways, n.d., WPD 4113-13, copy furnished by 
memo to WPD on 23 May 40, WPD 4185-5; Memos, Maj Bissell for ACofS WPD, 4 and 18 Jun 
40, WPD 4113-16 and WPD 4113-19; Memo, WPD for CofS, 1 Jul 40, WPD 4113-22. 

Memo, JPC for CofS and CNO, 24 Jan 40, WPD 4113-23. 



by establishing a series of ultra-modern airports equipped with service, main- 
tenance, and repair facilities." To conceal its official hand the Army called 
upon a retired officer, Col. John H. Jouett, president of the Aeronautical 
Chamber of Commerce, to serve as contract co-ordinator in negotiations with 
Pan American and its legal representatives. In late September ill health forced 
Colonel Jouett to withdraw from this position, but by then the Pan 
American contracts were practically in final form." 

Pan American Airways at the outset accepted responsibility for the Latin 
American airport construction program with some reluctance. It had neither 
the organization nor the experience to undertake a large-scale construction 
program, and it also foresaw the possibility of unfavorable repercussions in 
Latin America if it became identified with a government-subsidized projeCT 
undertaken for military purposes. On the other hand the introduction on 4 
July of new stratoliner land planes on Pan American's international services 
to Latin America gave the company an interest in airfield improvements for 
purely commercial reasons. After Pan American had made a preliminary study 
of the feasibility and cost of the project. Army and Navy representatives on 
19 July gave its officials a "go ahead" signal to proceed with arrangements 
for undertaking the work. When Pan American's president, Mr. Juan Trippe, 
requested the immediate assignment of Army and Navy inspectors to super- 
vise these arrangements, he was told that the War Department "had com- 
plete confidence in the ability of Pan Air to decide questions as to 
construction, etc.," and that there would be no military supervision until after 
construction commenced.''" 

By early September the Army, the Navy, and Pan American had agreed 
upon plans and contractual arrangements that were mutually satisfactory. 
General Marshall thereupon recommended the provision of $12,000,000 to 
finance the airfield project and backed his recommendation with the opinion 
that "the immediate conclusion of the PAA contract is now more essential 
to our national defense than any other single matter."'" On 13 September 
President Roosevelt approved the allocation of $12,000,000 from the Emer- 
gency Fund voted by Congress the preceding June. Legal and financial details 
continued to delay official consummation of the Pan American contract for 
some weeks thereafter, although the Army assumed that the airline was going 

" On Colonel Jouett's services, see: Memo, WPD for CofS, 1 Jul 40; Ltr, SW to Col Jouett, 
16 Jul 40. Both in WPD 4113-22, Memo, WPD for CofS, 5 Nov 40, WPD 4113-33. 

Notes on Conf between Army, Navy, and PAA reprs, 19 Jul 40, WPD 4113-29. On Pan 
American's attitude toward undertaking the project, see the report submitted on 25 January 1946 
to the Under Secretary of War by Col Curtis G. Pratt et al., Office of CG ASF, entitled: Con- 
struction of Certain Latin American and Caribbean Air Bases Built by the United States (hereafter 
cited as Pratt Report), ASF records. 

Memo, CofS for SW, 7 Sep 40, AG 580.82 (8-27-40) Bulky Package. 



ahead with preliminary surveys and was securing the requisite approvals from 
Latin American governments. On 24 October the Department of State gave 
its official approval to the Pan American project, and in doing so explained: 

It is the opinion of the State Department that to handle this matter on the basis of 
negotiating tteaties with the various countries concerned would be either impracticable of 
complete accomplishment, or would involve delays of such duration as might be fatal to 
adequate preparations to meet the present critical international situation. For that reason, 
the project for the development of this work by the Pan American Company under the 
direction of the War and Navy Departments appears to the Department of State the most 
practicable method of achieving the desired results.'*' 

To do the airfield construction work in Latin America, Pan American 
Airways set up a new company, the Pan American Airports Corporation, 
which engaged solely in undertaking the construction program prescribed 
and paid for by the United States Government. The Wat Department con- 
tracted directly with the Pan American Airports Corporation for the construc- 
tion. Pan American Airways, Inc., the parent company, simultaneously exe- 
cuted a separate contract with its new subsidiary to cover supervision of the 
latter's work. The parent company and its operating subsidiaries also con- 
ducted all negotiations with Latin American governments for the necessary 
leases and work permits. Pan American signed the contracts for the airfield 
work on 2 November, and the next day Secretary of War Stimson added his 
signature to the War Department contract with the Pan American Airports 

During the negotiation of the Pan American contract the War Plans 
Division exercised staff control over the course of the transaction. With the 
signature of the contract, control passed to the G-4 Division of the War 
Department General Staff, which supervised its execution until February 
1942, when the Army Air Forces assumed control. The conttact provided for 
the appointment of an Army deputy contracting officer to maintain liaison 
with Pan American and exercise general supervision over the airfield project. 
The post was filled by an officer detailed from the New York offices of the 
Corps of Engineers, who submitted monthly progress reports to the War 
Department. During 1941 the Army also sent a few officers into the field to 
inspect progress of the work and report any deficiencies or particular prob- 
lems. Nevertheless, Pan American was given a generally free hand to carry 
out the program until after the entry of the United States into war. 

"2 Ltr, Under Secy State to SW, 24 Oct 40, WPD 4113-37. Memo, SGS for CofS, 18 Sep 40, 
OCS Conf Binder 3, records President Roosevelt's approval; various papers in AG 580.82 (8-27-40), 
Sec. 1 and Bulky Package, record the arrangement of other details during September and October. 

OCS interoffice memo, 4 Nov 40, AG 580.82 (8-27-40), Sec 1. This file also contains 
copies of the original Pan American contracts. The most convenient summary of these contracts 
and the many supplementary contracts subsequently negotiated with Pan American is in the Pratt 
Report, Sec. Ill and Incls 3 and 4. 



The Pan American contract called for a payment of $12,000,000 for the 
construction or improvement before 30 June 1S>42 of facilities at twenty-five 
locations and for maintenance of these facilities and supply of fuel during 
the construction period. Several site changes were subsequently made for 
political reasons. The War Department planned originally to have Pan 
American build airfields in Trinidad and British Guiana.*'' Pan American 
actually did some work on a seaplane base in Trinidad, but all work on the 
landing fields in the British bases was done by the Corps of Engineers after 
Pan American had made some preliminary surveys. A major base had also 
been planned for Martinique, but the continued adhesion of Martinique to 
the Vichy regime made this project impracticable. Alternative bases were 
eventually provided by the Army at Antigua and St. Lucia. The Army also 
assumed responsibility for constructing the airfield at David, Panama. Thus, 
under the original contract. Pan American actually built new airfields or 
improved existing ones at twenty-one sites: on the principal West Indies- 
Brazil route, on airfields in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Dutch 
Guiana, and at eight Brazilian sites; and along the secondary Texas-Panama- 
northern South American route, at three locations in Mexico, one each in 
Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Colombia, and three in Venezuela. By the end of 
February 1941 construction was in progress at five of these fields. On the eve 
of Pearl Harbor the field construction program was estimated to be only 38 
percent complete, with only five landing fields and two seaplane bases 
reported as much as 80 percent finished. Nevertheless many of the fields were 
then in usable condition and were being used by the Army and the Navy, 
and the progress report for November 1S>41 forecast that all work under the 
original program would be completed by 30 April 1942, two months before 
the date specified in the contract.'" 

On several occasions during 1941 the War Department expressed dissat- 
isfaction with the seemingly slow progress of the Airport Development Pro- 
gram. The War Plans and G-4 Divisions of the General Staff both made 
known their impatience to the Engine'ers in March 1S>41. In response, the 
deputy contracting officer cited the "necessary slowness in negotiating with 
the various governments in Latin America" and the difficulties that Pan 
American had met in placing orders for construction equipment and mate- 
rials. Another and perhaps more important reason lay in the difficulty in 

On 7 September General Marshall had pointed out that "in the Caribbean theater the Pan 
American contract is a primary essential to the matter of the British bases." Memo, CofS for SW, 
7 Sep 40, AG 580.82 (8-27-40) Bulky Package. 

The 1941 progress reports are in AG 580.82 (8-27-40), Sec. 2. 

Memo, WPD for G-2, 6 Mar 41, WPD 4113-33; Ltr, TAG to CofEngrs, 12 Mar 41; 5th 
Ind on Progress Report of Dec 40, Deputy Contracting Off to Div Engrs North Atlantic Div, 
31 Mar 41. Last two in AG 580.82 (8-27-40), Sec. 2. 



getting competent engineer supervisors and civilian labor and keeping them 
working efficiently at field locations. For example, at the Dutch Guiana base 
of Paramaribo, where separate landplane and seaplane facilities were being 
provided, the work encountered unusual supervisory difficulties and was also 
plagued by heavy rains and other adverse effects of the tropical environment. 
Although construction at Paramaribo began in February 1941, with an initial 
forecast of completion by 30 August 1941, the landplane base was only 12 
percent complete by that date. Initially, considerable time was consumed in 
assembling equipment and training native employees in its efficient use.'*' 
Thereafter, a long delay ensued because of drainage problems that the engi- 
neer in charge of construction was apparently not competent to solve. 
Meanwhile, the rainy season set in, making continuous work difficult. En- 
gineering problems and the weather appear to have overwhelmed the super- 
vising engineer, who more and more frequently "was seen in town, rather 
than at the field, and usually intoxicated. ... At the same time he appears 
to have had more and more trouble with his labor, including a short strike, 
largely because he left others in charge." ''^ Such supervisory difficulties were 
not unique in tropical environments. The work at Guatemala City was at 
first very poorly organized and managed. "This condition," reported the 
deputy contracting officer, "was corrected early in June by the dismissal of 
the engineer-in-charge of that job and the substitution of a construction 
superintendent who has proved to be very efficient and well qualified." '^^ In 
September 1941 the War Department registered a formal complaint with Pan 
American about the unsatisfactory progress of the airport program; while 
acknowledging the many difficulties the airline had encountered, it neverthe- 
less urged the necessity of speeding work at all fields. 

In Brazil, where the construction program was carried out under the 
supervision of Pan American's local subsidiary, Panair do Brazil, work was 
particularly slow in getting under way despite the strategic importance of 
Brazil in hemisphere defense plans and the high priority accorded to Brazilian 
construction in the original airways plan.'' Pan American failed to complete 
more than 40 percent of the construction work on any of the Brazilian land 
fields before the entrance of the United States into the war, although several 
of the fields had usable runways. When the Air Forces proposed in the fall 
of 194l to arrange with Pan American for the construction of additional 
facilities in Brazil, the War Plans Division expressed opposition not only 
because of the reluctance of Brazil to co-operate more wholeheartedly in 

" Progress Report, 30 Apr 41, AG 580.82 (8-27-40), Sec. 2. 
"8 Report of Amer Vice-Consul, 3 Jun 41, WPD 4113-109. 

Progress Report, 31 Jul 41, AG 580.82 (8-27-40), Sec. 2. 
'» Ltr, SW to President of PAA, 19 Sep 41, WPD 4113-33. 

" Ltr, Deputy Contracting Ofif to CofEngrs, 29 Nov 41, AG 580.82 (8-27-40), Sec. 1. 



defense plans but also because "Pan American's performance under the con- 
tract has been so slow and of such a nature that additional construction at 
sites now included under the Pan American contract should be undertaken 
through Pan American only if no other solution is possible." 

When the Air Forces renewed its recommendation for an expansion of 
Latin American airport facilities after the United States entered the war, the 
Division urged that much closer supervision of the current Airport 
Development Program be carried out than had theretofore been customary 
and that "any new work not included in the original contract or its pending 
modification be undertaken by some means other than further modification 
of the existing contract with Pan American Airports Corporation." " But 
after the transfer of supervisory control to the Chief of the Army Air Forces 
on 4 February 1942, the Chief of Engineers notified him "that it had been 
determined under existing diplomatic arrangements with South America that 
the only feasible method to prosecute this work was through Pan 
American." After February 1942 the Army Engineers maintained much 
closer supervision over Pan American's contract work, and the Department 
of State in March 1942 facilitated supervision by formally notifying the gov- 
ernments concerned of the interest of the United States Government in the 
airport construction program." 

The expansion of the original Pan American contract began in May 1S>41 
with a War Department authorization to Pan American to construct an air- 
field near Cayenne, French Guiana. Pan American wanted this field for com- 
mercial reasons and the Army wanted it because of the 440-mile gap between 
Zandery Field in Dutch Guiana and the first Brazilian field at Amapa— a 
gap notable for its bad flying weather. Local French authorities, though loyal 
to Vichy, also wanted the airfield built, and for several months during 1S>41 
they successfully co-operated with Pan American to conceal its identity as 
the constructor and prospective user of the Cayenne airfield. Nazi pressure 
through the Vichy Government finally led to the removal of the local 
French governor who had pushed the project, and work on the Cayenne air- 
field was suspended in August 1941.'* 

Primarily for political reasons, the Army agreed during 1941 to add a 
limited airport program for Paraguay and Bolivia to the Pan American con- 
tract. The War Plans Division consistently opposed any military airfield pro- 

" Memo, Col Bissell for ACofS WPD, 8 Nov 41, WPD 4113-33. 
5' Memo, G-4 for WPD, 18 Dec 41, G-4/32126, Sec. III. 

Pratt Report, p. 60. 
" Ltr, SW to Secy State, 16 Nov 45, OPD 580.82, Sec. III-A. 

Memo, Col Bissell for ACofS WPD, 19 Dec 40, WPD 4113-49; various papers, dated 
February-August 1941, WPD 4113-56. 



gram for southern South America as being unnecessary under current war 
plans or under any likely development of the strategic situation. Neverthe- 
less, the Chief of Staff yielded to Department of State requests that this work 
be undertaken, partly because the Air Corps favored it and partly because 
he himself believed that airfield development in Paraguay and Bolivia was 
preferable to the alternative of supplying them with Army munitions. In 
May President Roosevelt approved the expenditure of an additional $2,000,- 
000 of emergency funds for airfields in Paraguay and Bolivia, and two 
months later G-4 was authorized to contract with Pan American for work 
on two fields in each country.'^ A Department of State proposal that the 
Army lend similar backing to an airport development scheme in Uruguay 
met with a different response. Current military plans and the existing war 
situation did not envisage any possible Army air operations as far south as 
Uruguay. Although the Air Forces looked upon the Uruguayan project with 
some favor, the General Staff successfully opposed an extension of the Pan 
American contract to include it, and the staff also opposed the expenditure 
of War Department lend-lease funds to do the work by other means. 

The basic Pan American contract of 2 November 1940 was revised a year 
later to include the Paraguayan and Bolivian airfield work and to provide 
additional funds for speeding construction at the sites originally chosen, for 
new facilities at these airfields, and for other purposes. This revision increased 
the allotment of emergency funds for the Airport Development Program 
before Pearl Harbor from $12,000,000 to $19,000,000." Soon after the United 
States entered the war, the Army Air Forces proposed a further expansion of 
the airfield program, primarily to increase the capacity of the South Atlantic 
airway via Brazil. For some weeks the War Plans Division and General 
Headquarters opposed any major expansion of Brazilian airfield facilities un- 
less assurances were obtained that this airway could be properly defended.*^ 
The improvement in the war outlook and in Brazilian-American relations 
overcame these objections, and the Air Forces after assuming supervisory 
control over the airfield program in February 1942 proceeded to expand it in 
Brazil and elsewhere. By the end of June 1942 a total of about $33,000,000 
had been allotted to Pan American contract work on airfields in Latin 

Notes on SLC mtgs, 23 Jan and 4 Feb 4l, SLC Min, Vol. II, Icems 4 and 5; Memo, SGS 
for CofS, 2 May 41, OCS Conf Binder 15; various papers, daced February-July 1941, WPD 

Memo, CofS for Under Secy Srate, 30 Sep 41, and subsequent correspondence, WPD 4346-7. 
" Ltr, SWtoSN, 12 Jul 41, WPD 4113-55; Ltr, TAG to CofAAF, 21 Nov 40, WPD 4113-33. 
f"" Various papers, dated 16 Dec 4 1-1 6 Jan 42, WPD 4113-33; Notes on GHQ stafif conf, 7 
Jan 42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2, 

Financial Report on Airport Development Program as of 30 June 1942, OPD 580.81 PAA. 



Thereafter during the wartime years the United States Army continued 
to depend primarily on Pan American Airways for the development and 
maintenance of airfields in the Latin American nations in which the airline 
had undertaken construction work for military purposes before Pearl Harbor. 
By midsummer of 1944, when the airfield construction program was virtually 
complete, Pan American had built new airfields or improved existing facil- 
ities at forty different locations, including the development of sixteen land- 
plane and five seaplane bases in Brazil and of eight landplane bases in Mex- 
ico. The construction costs of airfields included in the Airport Development 
Program amounted eventually to more than $90,000,000, and by the summer 
of 1945 the Army had also paid Pan American more than $10,000,000 for 
maintenance of the airfields. Considerably more than half of this money was 
expended on airfield construction and maintenance work in Brazil, primarily 
to provide facilities for the tremendous volume of air traffic that flowed to 
and from the fighting fronts of the Old World.'^^ 

The Latin American airfield program was only one segment of the world- 
wide services rendered by Pan American Airways to the military prosecution 
of the war. During 1942 Pan American devoted more than 60 percent of its 
greatly expanded facilities to the performance of services for the United 
States Army and Navy, and it was paid a total of about $59,000,000 for its 
services during that year.*^' After 1941 the War Department never questioned 
the fact that by means of the Pan American contracts the United States 
Army and Navy had obtained a military airways system in Latin America 
more readily and more cheaply than could have been provided in any other 
manner.^'' The airfields built by Pan American were sufficiently ready at the 
end of 1941 to permit the immediate reinforcement of the Panama Canal de- 
fenses and in 15)42 to cope with the submarine menace in the Caribbean and 
South Atlantic; and they helped to provide the United Nations with their 
most vital airway link during 1S)42 and 1943. 

Beyond its immediate worth to the war effort, the Airport Development 
Program provided facilities of permanent value to hemisphere relations and 
defense. General Marshall had emphasized this point in informal remarks at 
a meeting in April 1941: "Airfields throughout South America are an asset 
to us for military use and for future trade relations. Anything we can do now 
toward providing airfields is an enduring thing and not a venture. ... A 

''^ Pratt Report, p. 76. 
Josephson, Empire of the Air, pp. 167, 171. 

A careful postwar investigation of the Airport Development Program produced the opinion 
"that under the circumstances and the many, many difficulties faced, a splendid job was done, and 
that it would have been most difficult to have done a much better one." Pratt Report, p. 92. 



great deal of money had better be concentrated to develop airfields all over 
the place. That is something that will help us in the long run. ... It makes 
the best kind of common sense." Though in practice the Army confined 
itself to sponsoring the development of airfields actually needed for defense 
and for the prosecution of the war, its association with Pan American pro- 
duced many airfield facilities that were an important contribution to the 
peacetime ties and relationships among the American nations. 

Preparing for Air Operations 

To make full use of the airfields and airways being developed by Pan 
American in Latin America, the Army needed cenain privileges and services 
that it was only partially successful in obtaining before the United States en- 
tered the war. It needed the greatest possible freedom to move its planes over 
the territory of the Latin American nations and to land planes within their 
territory. It needed communications and meteorological services to guide the 
planes, and at airfields it needed trained mechanics to service them and sup- 
plies of aviation gasoline to fuel them. A War Plans Division study of Sep- 
tember 1941 explained: 

The use of air power in counter-air-force action is the only manner in which the re- 
quirement for speed and mobihty [can] be met over the great distances involved in the 
defense of this Hemisphere. But modern aircraft require prepared airdromes from which 
to operate and base facilities to include, at the very least, the spotting of, in advance, gas- 
oline, oil, machine gun ammunition, and bombs. . . . Runways and material are required 
before the need for them actually exists, for when air-borne aggression strikes, there will 
then not be time to provide these necessities.*'^ 

The advance spotting of bombs and ammunition at airfields would have re- 
quired a military guard, and that in turn would have given the airfields the 
character of military bases. Except in Panama, the Army was to find that it 
could not establish new military bases anywhere in the territory of the Latin 
American nations until after Pearl Harbor. 

An early 1941 proposal to store bombs at two Venezuelan airports illus- 
trates the political difficulties besetting advance preparations for air defense. 
The United States Navy suddenly became concerned over the safety of the 
oil installations on the islands of Aruba and Curasao and asked the Army to 
store airplane bombs at nearby Venezuelan airfields from which Army bomb- 
ers could attack hostile vessels in the area. The Army considered the Ven- 
ezuelan airfields too far from Panama and Puerto Rico to permit bomb- 
loaded flights to them in an emergency. The Chief of the Air Corps started 

Notes on SLC mtg, 21 Apr 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 20. 

Memo, Chief Jt Policy and Plans Sec for Chief Lat Amer Sec WPD, 9 Sep 41, OPD Misc 49- 



a shipment of bombs for this purpose to Panama even before the Army took 
up with the Department of State the problem of securing Venezuelan con- 
sent to storing the bombs at the La Guaira and Maracaibo airfields. Under 
Secretary of State Welles was informed that the Army wanted to store three 
hundred heavy bombs, to be guarded by a company of troops, at each field. 
It would also need to construct storage igloos for the bombs, establish new 
radio facilities with the necessary operating personnel, and station liaison of- 
ficers at each field to maintain contact with Venezuelan military authorities.^' 

Though at first Mr. Welles did not anticipate any great difficulty about 
making some such arrangement, he soon learned that the Venezuelans were 
opposed to the stationing of any United States Army units, however small, 
on Venezuelan soil. On the other hand, they were willing to permit two 
Army noncommissioned officers to be attached to the United States Naval Mis- 
sion so that one of them could supervise the employment of Venezuelan 
civilians to guard the bombs at each airfield. The Venezuelans also wanted 
the bombs stored at airfields other than those proposed by the United States 
Army and from which Army medium and heavy bombers could not operate. 
The Army, though insisting it must use the airfields it had designated, accepted 
the noncommissioned officer proposal; then it discovered that the Navy no 
longer wished to have bombs for Army aircraft stored in Venezuela.^* The 
Army's chief Latin American planner wanted to persist in getting final Vene- 
zuelan approval of the project anyway, on the ground that "having secured 
such permission from one American Republic, it will probably be easier to 
secure similar privileges from others." Nevertheless, nothing more was 
done, and the Army failed to obtain a comparable privilege elsewhere until 
after the United States entered the war. 

The Army's air commander in the Panama Canal Zone informally sug- 
gested in March 1941 that it would be a good idea to station small Army 
detachments of servicing and communications specialists at each of the air- 
fields being developed by Pan American Airways.'" His suggestion led to an 
official inquiry from the War Department to the Caribbean commander for 
recommendations. In response General Van Voorhis stated, "United States 
military servicing, communications and weather detachments are considered 
essential at certain airdromes in Central and South America where United 

SGS Memo for Record, 17 Jan 41, OCS Conf Binder 8; Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 
18 Jan 41, WPD 4361-2. 

Notes on SLC mtgs, 23 Jan and 15 Feb 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Items 4 and 6; various papers, 
dated 22 Jan-12 Feb 41, WPD 4361-2; Memo, Gen Arnold for CofS, 20 Feb 41, OCS Conf 
Binder 10. 

Note for Record, Col Ridgway, WPD, 25 Feb 41, WPD 4361-2. 
"> Pers Ltr, Gen Andrews to Gen Marshall, 12 Mar 4l, AG 320.2 (1-8-41). 



States troops, under present plans, will not be stationed." They were needed 
not only for these specific duties but also to guard planes in transit against 
sabotage and to help insure the secrecy of air movements. He asked that 
fifteen-man detachments be placed at each of the Pan American airports in 
Mexico, Central America, the West Indian republics, and northern South 
Aperica and that they be controlled from a small headquarters to be located 
in the Canal Zone under the commander of the Caribbean Air Force. ^' 

During the summer and autumn of 1941, War and State Department of- 
ficials discussed the possibility of stationing Army detachments at airports 
but actually did nothing about it. In October the Caribbean Defense Com- 
mand renewed its earlier recommendation. It asked particularly for detach- 
ments at airfields in the Central American and West Indian republics, and it 
wanted the detachments to be in uniform and armed. For the moment, the 
War Plans Division decided that the potential disadvantages of the scheme 
outweighed its prospective advantages— the detachments would be difficult 
to control, and their presence in uniform might encourage anti-American out- 
bursts. Since the Army Air Forces did not officially indorse the detachment 
plan until a few days before Pearl Harbor, it was not acted upon before the 
United States entered the war.^^ Until then, the Army normally depended 
on Pan American Airways to provide weather, communications, and mechan- 
ical services, as well as fuel, at its airports." 

The Army needed to secure greater freedom for its planes to fly over and 
land on the territory of the Latin American nations than it had under pro- 
cedures in effect before 1941. The transfer of a heavy bomber squadron from 
Panama to Trinidad in the spring of 1941 illuminated the difficulties arising 
under current procedures for flight arrangements. The planes had to be dis- 
armed and their armament shipped by sea, and Colombia and Venezuela had 
to be approached through diplomatic channels for permission to fly over 
their territory and land at their airfields en route.""* Instead of special arrange- 
ments for each movement, the Army wanted flight agreements that would 
permit its planes to move at will within the Caribbean area. The Army Air 
Forces recommended in the fall of 1941 that the Department of State nego- 

" Ltr, CG CDC to TAG, 31 May 41, AG 580 (4-15-41). 

^= Rad, CG, CDC to TAG, 17 Oct 41, AG 580 (4-15-41) ; Memo, WPD fot CofAAF, 28 
Oct 41, and accompanying notations; Memo, CofAAF for WPD, 2 Dec 41. Last two in WPD 

" On occasion during the latter part of 194 1 Mexico and the Caribbean republics permitted 
Army mechanics in civilian clothes to be st ationed temporarily at Pan American airports to service 
large flights of planes. See [Chapter XIII| below, for the Mexican approval of this arrangement. 
Ltr, CG CDC to TAG, 1 May 41, OCS9B6-74. 



tiate uniform agreements with each of the Caribbean and northern South 
American nations on the following terms: 

(1) No restrictions as to type and number of airplanes, frequency of flights, personnel 
or material carried. 

(2) No restrictions as to length of time the flight may remain in the country con- 

(3) Official notification by direct communication between the Chief of the Army Air 
Forces or the Commanding General of the Caribbean Air Force, and one predetermined 
military agency of the countries concerned. 

(4) Permission granted to be applicable to all flights of United States service aircraft: 
across and to the country concerned." 

The flight agreement with Mexico negotiated in April 1941 had been a step 
in this direction.^* Informally, Colombia during the summer of 1941 agreed 
to freer flight privileges than those accorded by the Mexican agreement, and 
Venezuela did likewise on the eve of Pearl Harbor.^' The Central American 
and West Indian nations generally imposed no restrictions on Army aircraft 
in transit between the United States and its Caribbean bases. Nevertheless, 
before December 1941 neither they nor any of the other Latin American na- 
tion would agree to allow United States Army planes to fly at will over their 
territory and land thereon as necessary, subject only to advance notification 
through military channels for technical reasons. Without such freedom, the 
Caribbean Air Force could not carry out its mission in time of war. 

In order to prepare air navigation charts of the terrain along the develop- 
ing system of military airways in Latin America, the Army also needed to 
obtain permission for Army Air Corps photographic teams to operate from 
Latin American airports. Many of the Latin American nations had granted 
this privilege in principle in the staff agreements of 1S>40, but little had been 
done about it. Two days before the Pearl Harbor attack the Army sought 
permission for its air forces to photograph fifty-mile wide strips along the air- 
ways through Mexico, Central America, and the northern and western coasts 
of South America.^" 

With the advent of war, the War Plans Division decided that the quick- 
est and most appropriate way to obtain the various air privileges that it had 
previously sought would be to invoke the staff agreements of 1940. On 11 
December it asked the Department of State to do so, "but only to the extent 
of granting permission to use their airports, seaports and related facilities, in- 

" M emo, CofA AF for WPD, 27 Sep 41, WPD 4113-102. 
Se d Ch. Xllll below. 

" Report of 14 Jul 41, and other papers, WPD 4379-11; Memo, Venezuelan Foreign Minister 
to Amer Ambassador, 6 Dec 41, WPD 4361-21. 

Ltr, SW to Chairman Economic Defense Board, 5 Dec 41, and Incls describing privileges 
desired, WPD 4115-62. 


eluding communications of all kinds; to take necessary air photographs; and 
to send to certain key airports small Air Corps servicing, communications 
and weather detachments." At the moment of this request, the Army had no 
desire to put armed forces other than these small detachments into any of 
the Latin American republics except Brazil.-' The Department of State im- 
mediately asked Ecuador and the five Central American and three West 
Indian republics to accede to the Army's wishes, and more cautious requests 
went out to Colombia and Venezuela.'" The Army at the same time asked 
for Mexican consent to station airway detachments at three airports.*" Ap- 
parently without consulting the War Plans Division, the Army Air Forces a 
few days later asked the Department of State to negotiate new flight agree- 
ments that would permit Army aircraft to move at will in the Latin 
American area.'^ 

The diplomatic approaches that followed these Army requests resulted, 
without the formality of new written agreements, in the granting of vir- 
tually unrestricted flying and photographic privileges for United States mili- 
tary planes by Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and by the Central American 
and West Indian republics. A new staff^ agreement with Venezuela, signed 
by a representative of the Caribbean Defense Command on 15 January 1942, 
provided for relatively free flying privileges but not for photographic work 
by United States Army planes. Mexico announced its willingness to allow 
American planes to reconnoiter its territory in December 1941, and the for- 
mal establishment of the Joint United States- Mexican Defense Commission 
the following month provided a channel for obtaining necessary flying and 
photographic privileges for Army aircraft during the war. Brazil agreed dur- 
ing the spring of 1942 to let the Army map both its coast and its interior, 
and also to allow Army planes to use the air corridor through northeastern 
Brazil without restriction.^' 

The Army's formal request to station servicing detachments at the Pan 
American airports had a more complex aftermath. Mexico accepted unarmed 
detachments dressed in civilian clothes and ostensibly working as Pan Amer- 
ican employees. Venezuela agreed to the same arrangement for detachments 

" Memo, WPD for Dept of State, 11 Dec 4l, WPD 4113-136. 

Memo, Dept of State for WPD, 22 Dec 41, inclosing copies of messages sent on 13 De- 
cember 1941 by Department of State to embassies and legations, WPD 4115-73. 

Ltr, Gen Embick to Col Cristobal Guzman Cardenas, 13 Dec 41, WPD 4484-1. 
Memo, CofAAF for SW, 18 Dec 41; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 19 Dec 41. Both in OCS 9136-89. 
1' Memo, WPD for GHQ, 3 Jan 42, WPD 4115-78, contains a summary of photographic 
privileges granted. Dept of State Memo, 8 Jan 42, OPD Misc 10, Lat Amer Flying— General, 
contains a summary c'f flight privileges granted. On Colombia, Memo, Col Barber for Gen 
Gerow, WPD, 16 Jai. 42, WPD 4379-23. On Venezuela, Memo . WPD for CofS, 24 Feb 42, 
WPD 4361-15. On Brazil and Mexico, see Chapters |5ail and fcITll below. 



at four airfields, but because of the Army's reluctance to allow any of its 
troops to be stationed anywhere unarmed and in civilian clothing unless 
absolutely necessary, a detachment was eventually sent only to the strate- 
gically located Maracaibo airfield.*'' Colombia likewise approved the dispatch 
of detachments, but under restrictions that persuaded the Caribbean com- 
mander to withhold action until an emergency required that they be sent.*' 
The West Indian republics readily agreed to receive servicing personnel at 
their airfields, and at the end of February 1942 Brazil approved the station- 
ing of much larger numbers of Air Corps specialists than the detachment 
plan had ever visualized.*^ In Central America and on the west coast of 
South America a different situation developed from that foreseen when the 
War Plans Division submitted its request for detachments to the Depart- 
ment of State on 11 December. Almost immediately afterward the War De- 
partment decided to establish a long-range air reconnaissance by Army planes 
of the Pacific approaches to the Panama Canal. This required the establish- 
ment of regular military bases in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru.*'' The emer- 
gency air base in Costa Rica received a small military guard as well as a serv- 
icing detachment. Apparently the landing field at Managua, Nicaragua, was 
the only location at which the Army carried out its original detachment plan 
without change. 

These various arrangements made after Pearl Harbor gave Army aircraft 
the mobility in air operations that the military airways system projected in 
1939 and 1940 had been designed to provide. In the western Caribbean area, 
most of the Pan American airports served as useful wartime links between 
the United States and the military air bases that guarded the Panama Canal 
and its approaches. In the eastern Caribbean, they provided steppingstones 
to the major military airfields in Puerto Rico and the British bases. Beyond 
British Guiana, the Pan American airfields became the stations of the Army's 
South Atlantic airway to the Old World. The War Department's prewar 
alliance with Pan American Airways passed the tests of wartime circum- 
stances, and in so doing it provided a convenient and workable basis for 
military collaboration between the United States and its neighbors to the 

The detachment went to Maracaibo in June 1942 and remained for about one year. See Hist 
Sec, CDC, Military Collaboration, C.D.C.— Venezuela During World War II, pp. 47-49. 

Small weather and communications detachments were sent to two Colombian airfields during 
1943. See Historical Section, Caribbean Defense Command, MS, Cooperation and Collaboration 
of the Re public of Colombia with the United States in the Second World War, p. 49. 

See ICh. XII.I below. 

*' The development of American military bases under the Caribbean Defense Command is 
treated in Conn, Engleman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States. 


Military Relations With Brazil 
Before Pearl Harbor 

The progress of navigation by air in the decade preceding World War II 
radically altered the framework of planning for the defense of the United 
States and the Western Hemisphere. Commercial airways bridged the 1,800- 
mile ocean span between Africa and Brazil and pointed out the Brazilian 
bulge as the air approach that an Old World aggressor would find most prac- 
ticable. The adoption of a new policy of hemisphere defense in November 
1938 necessarily focused the attention of American military planners on 
Brazil. A hostile military lodgment in Northeast Brazil would have imme- 
diately threatened the meager existing Caribbean defenses of the United 
States to the north and, to the south, the most populous and highly devel- 
oped region of South America.' In 1939 protection of the Brazilian bulge 
against Axis aggression became the keystone of American military plans for 
defending the hemisphere's Atlantic front. The Army was well aware that 
the successful execution of plans and measures to this end would require the 
fi:iendly co-operation and collaboration of Brazil, and its staff discussions with 
Brazilian military authorities, which began in June 1939, eventually led to a 
full military partnership during World War II between the United States 
and Brazil. 

Fortunately, a tradition of friendship existed between the United States of 
America and the United States of Brazil. Their relations had been particu- 
larly cordial in the preceding half century, during which their economies had 
become increasingly interdependent. Only Brazil among the South American 
nations became an active belligerent in World War I. Brazilians had enthu- 
siastically espoused the Pan-American concept from its beginnings and had 
worked in complete harmony with the United States in establishing the po- 
litical framework of inter-American solidarity climaxed in 1938 by the 
Declaration of Lima.^ 

' Incl 3 to Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 Feb 39, par. f, Strategic Factors, WPD 4115-3. The 
term "Northeast Brazil," as used in this volume, refers to the Brazilian coastal area between 
Recife and the Guiana border. 

^ Lawrence F. Hill, ed., Brazil (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1947), contains a 
good brief description of Brazil and Brazilian- American relations. 



Brazil has nearly half the area and about half the population of the South 
American continent, and great natural resources make it one of the poten- 
tially strong powers of the world. But in 1939 Brazil's military strength was 
no match for its size and natural wealth. The Brazilian Navy was so anti- 
quated that both American and Brazilian experts considered it of little worth 
for action against modern naval vessels. The Army, which had an active 
strength of about sixty-six thousand in 1939, lacked modern combat equip- 
ment. The Air Force, which was to be organized as an independent service 
in January 1941, had no modern combat planes and was far weaker than 
those of Argentina and Peru. Brazil's military policy called for the concen- 
tration of its Army in the populous southeastern part of the country, adja- 
cent to the Argentine and Uruguayan borders and to the large Italian, 
German, and Japanese minorities in the southern states. These foreign ele- 
ments—especially the Germans and Japanese— had been only partially inte- 
grated into Brazil's population, and during the 1930's the Nazi and Fascist 
regimes in Europe had fostered movements among the German and Italian 
minorities that threatened the security of the Brazilian Government. 

In consequence of Brazilian military concentration in the south, the 2,500- 
mile coast line north of Rio de Janeiro was virtually defenseless in 1939. It 
had no intallations whatsoever for coastal defense, no defenses against air 
attack, and almost no ground troops to fend off an invader. Nor did it have 
any means of land communication — road or railway— with central and south- 
ern Brazil that would have permitted rapid deployment of Brazilian forces 
toward the northeast to resist an external attack. While a surface attack on 
Northeast Brazil was fairly unthinkable as long as friendly naval powers — 
Great Britain, France, and the United States— controlled the Atlantic, the 
development of airpower and of the airway across the South Atlantic made 
an air attack feasible. Combined with a fifth-column movement among the 
foreign minorities in the south, such an attack could conceivably have 
brought a quick overthrow of the administration of President Getiilio Vargas 
and produced a situation gravely inimical to the national interests of the 
United States and of the other American nations. Analyzing the situation in 
March 1939, an Army War College group concluded that only the United 
States could provide forces that would be adequate to protect the Brazilian 

' This analysis of Brazil's military position is based principally on: G-2 Memo, 16 Jan 39, 
title: Notes on Coast Artillery Defs of the Coast of Brazil; and Memo, G-2 for WPD, 25 Jan 
39, sub: Def Policy of Brazil. Both in WPD 4115-3. Also AWC report, 29 Mar 39, sub: Special 
Study, Brazil, copy in WPD 4115-7. 



Brazilian civilian and military authorities readily acknowledged the de- 
fenselessness of Northeast Brazil. The Minister of War, General Eurico 
Caspar Dutra, and the Army Chief of Staff, General Pedro de Goes Mon- 
teiro, naturally wanted to mend the situation by building up the strength of 
the Brazilian Army. The Brazilian Army's objective, from 1939 onward, was 
to improve and increase its ground forces so that it could provide an ade- 
quate defense of the Brazilian bulge without American ground assistance. 
But Brazil's meager industrial development and lack of accessible industrial 
raw materials (notably iron and coal) made it almost wholly dependent on 
foreign armament supplies. Therefore, the Army's objective could be attained 
only by securing large quantities of arms from abroad— either by obtaining 
deliveries on a big munitions order placed with the German Krupp works 
in 1938 or by securing an equivalent arms supply from the United States. 
Throughout the pre-Pearl Harbor period the Brazilians realized that they had 
no real chance of adequately modernizing their naval and air arms, and they 
were therefore more willing to accept United States air and naval support 
than ground support in the defense of Northeast Brazil. Between 1939 and 
1942 the fundamental issue in Brazilian-American defense planning was the 
method of conducting a ground defense of the Brazilian bulge against the 
threat of external attack. The changed military situation of 1942 finally per- 
mitted a resolution of this issue in accordance with Brazilian desires. 

The United States and Brazilian Armies had maintained relations before 
1939 through military attaches in Washington and Rio de Janeiro, and also 
through a four-man United States Military Mission that since 1934 had 
helped advise and instruct the Brazilian Army in coast defense, ordnance, and 
chemical warfare matters. A thirteen-man United States Navy mission served 
the Brazilian Navy in a similar capacity."* A more intimate relationship fol- 
lowed the visit of Foreign Minister Oswaldo Aranha to the United States in 
February 1939, during which the Department of State had arranged for him 
to discuss military matters with the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval 
Operations.' As a result an official invitation was issued to the Chief of Staff- 
designate, General Marshall, to visit Brazil. General Marshall, accompanied 
by War Plans and Air officers, arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 24 May 1939. 
There he established a personal relationship with the Brazilian Chief of Staff. 
In mid-June General Goes Monteiro accompanied General Marshall to the 

" AWC report, 29 Mar 39, p. 47. 

^ Notes on SLC mtgs, 23 Jan and 8 Feb 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 31 and 34; Memo, WPD 
for CofS, 2 Feb 39, WPD 4U5-3. 



United States on a return visit. This exchange of visits laid the groundwork 
for subsequent Brazilian-American military collaboration.* 

The Problem of Arms Supply 

General Goes Monteiro, in his talks with American staff officers during 
June and July 1939, took the position that Brazil must continue the con- 
centration of its existing military strength in the south and depend on Amer- 
ican military aid for the defense of Northeast Brazil. For this purpose he 
proposed the installation of coast defense and antiaircraft guns and construc- 
tion of air and naval bases, and suggested that the base sites be selected 
jointly by American and Brazilian staff officers. These proposals hinged on 
the ability and willingness of the United States to supply Brazil with large 
quantities of arms and other war material and to grant technical and financial 
assistance in the construction of the proposed air and naval bases. General 
Goes Monteiro informally submitted a list of the ordnance and air equip 
ment Brazil wanted. The "first priority" items on this list included 156 heavy 
artillery pieces, 196 antiaircraft guns, 102 combat aircraft, 41 tanks, 252 
armored cars, and 722 automatic weapons of various types. The total require- 
ments of Brazil would be about thrice these amounts. The Brazilians hoped 
to pay for munitions principally by a direct exchange of raw materials. While 
the armaments request included air and naval items, the apparent implica- 
tion of the Brazilian proposals was that if Brazil and the United States be- 
came jointly involved in a war, American naval and air forces could use the 
new Brazilian bases, while ground defense would be supplied by newly or- 
ganized units of the Brazilian Army equipped with American arms. President 
Vargas approved these proposals upon General Goes Monteiro's return to 
Rio de Janeiro in August.^ 

In summarizing the Rio conversations for General Marshall, Major 
Ridgway of the War Plans Division concluded that the crucial factor in 
carrying out General Goes Monteiro's plan for defending Northeast Brazil 
would be the supply of munitions. If the United States could furnish them 
(though not necessarily in the large quantities requested), "the remaining 
steps will be relatively easy of accomplishment," Major Ridgway noted.* The 

<• Notes on SLC mtgs, 1 Apr and 15 May 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Items 36 and 39; Ltr, Gen Goes 
Monteiro to Gen Marshall, 8 Aug 39, WPD 4224-13. Mrs. Katherine T. Marshall, Together (New 
York, Atlanta: Tupper and Love, Inc., 1946), pp. 44-50, relates the circumstances of General 
Marshall's visit and the enthusiatic reception he received in Brazil. 

' Memos of Convs held in Rio, 12, 14, and 15 Jun 39, WPD 4224-7, WPD 4224-9, WPD 
4224-10; Ltr, Gen Goes Monteiro to Gen Marshall, 8 Aug 39, WPD 4224-13. 

» Memo, Maj Ridgway for DCofS, 17 Jun 39, WPD 4224-11. 



difficulty was that legal restrictions prevented the United States Army from 
providing from its own stocks or arsenals the type of military material that 
Brazil wanted, and Brazil certainly could not expect any American private 
manufacturer to negotiate the type of barter deal that it had made with the 
German Krupp works. Major Ridgway could only urge that the arms supply 
question be considered, that the United States provide such technical assist- 
ance and training to Brazilian Army officers as might be practicable, and 
that, in the meantime, American plans for formation of a joint Army-Navy 
expeditionary force to be employed in defense of the Brazilian bulge in an 
emergency be developed with a minimum of delay.' 

The day before Germany invaded Poland, President Roosevelt and the 
Department of State became alarmed by reports that the Germans intended 
to seize the island of Fernando de Noronha, lying about 215 miles off the 
Brazilian coast, and turn it into a submarine base. Brazilian authorities as- 
sured the United States that they had previously taken adequate measures 
to insure the security of Fernando de Noronha, but they again asked that the 
United States hasten to supply them with munitions, especially coast defense 
guns. Their request now received President Roosevelt's personal attention 
and backing.'" 

After the outbreak of the European war, the Brazilian Army was doubly 
anxious to get American arms, since it appeared probable that there would 
be great difficulty in securing deliveries on the Krupp order. General Marshall 
in October explained to General Goes Monteiro the existing difficulties that 
prevented the United States Army from readily providing all the types of 
equipment Brazil wanted, but he did offer to sell some surplus coast artillery 
weapons to Brazil at nominal prices. In mid-November the Secretary of 
War and President Roosevelt approved the terms on which surplus material 
could be offered.'^ 

During the summer conversations, arrangements had been made for a 
good-will visit of American Flying Fortresses to Brazil. This flight, when 
undertaken in November under the leadership of General Headquarters Air 
Force commander General Emmons, provided the means not only for pub- 
licizing Brazilian-American friendship but also for furthering military col- 

•> Ibid. 

Telg, Under Secy State Welles to Ambassador Jefferson CafFery, 31 Aug 39; Telg, CafFery 
to Welles, 1 Sep 39; Ltr, Welles to President Roosevelt, 6 Sep 39. All in Roosevelt Papers, 
FDRL. Telg, Cafifery to Dept of State, 4 Sep 39; Ltr, Wells to Gen Marshall, 5 Sep 39. Last two 
in WPD 4224-17. 

>' Ltr, Gen Goes Monteiro to Gen Marshall, 8 Sep 39, WPD 4224-15; Ltr, Gen Marshall to 
Gen Goes Monteiro, 5 Oct 39, WPD 42 24-19. 

'2 Papers in WPD 4224-45. See also |Ch. IX] above. 



laboration. As previously mentioned, General Emmons and his party used 
this opportunity to conduct a careful survey of the west and east coast air 
routes to the Brazilian bulge, and of the Natal area on the bulge as the pros- 
pective major air base site.'' General Marshall had arranged for Major 
Ridgway to accompany the flight, and he, together with Col. Allen Kimberly, 
Chief of the United States Military Mission, discussed problems of strategy 
and arms supply with General Goes Monteiro. They offered the Brazilian 
Chief of Staff the surplus coast artillery weapons that the President had ap- 
proved for sale and also gave him a list of strategic raw materials that the 
United States wished to acquire. The Department of State had vetoed the 
Brazilian proposal that the United States follow Germany's example of 
bartering military equipment for raw materials directly; instead, the Ameri- 
can plan was to purchase in both directions on a cash basis— the exchanges 
to parallel each other insofar as possible.''* The Brazilians agreed to this pro- 
cedure and arranged for three of their artillery ofRcers to return with General 
Emmons to inspect the material offered." 

The surplus coast defense equipment offered to Brazil in November 1939 
consisted of 6-inch mobile guns, 7-inch railway guns, and 12-inch guns, and 
gun tubes, of various models. None of the material was in an immediately 
usable condition, but apparently neither Americans nor Brazilians foresaw 
the difficulties that lay ahead in getting the weapons ready for actual use. 
At the time, coast defense guns appear to have been considered an interim 
contribution that the United States Army could make immediately to Brazil's 
defenses, pending arrangements to supply field equipment. Between January 
and May 1940, Brazil purchased for cash ninety-nine of the 6-inch guns, 
eighteen of the 7-inch guns and gun tubes with 2,300 empty projectiles for 
them, and twenty-six 12-inch gun tubes, at a total cost of more than $100,000. 
All of the guns and gun tubes required extensive overhauling and additional 
parts, and there was no currently available ammunition supply for any of 
them— indeed, the drawings for the ammunition could not even be located. 
At General Marshall's urging, the War Department from the spring of 1940 
onward seems to have done all that it could to expedite work on this equip- 
ment. In November 1940 the Chief of Staff arranged to attach Lt. Col. 
Morgan L. Brett, a retired ordnance expert, to the Brazilian Purchasing Com- 

" Ltr, Gen Goes Monteiro to Gen Marshall, 8 Aug 39, NSCPD 4224-13; Memo, Maj Ridgway 
for Gen Strong, ACofS WPD, 30 Oct 39, WPD 42 24-27; Report of Gen Emmons, n.d., and Re- 
port of Col Olds, 1 Dec 39, WPD 4185-2. See also lCh. X] above. 

"* Memos for Record, Col Kimberly, 18 and 22 Nov 38, WPD 4224-67; Notes on SLC mtg, 
6 Nov 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 41. 

" Memo, Maj Ridgway for CofS, 2 Dec 39, SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 46. 



mission in Washington in order to forward this work. Actually, only the 
reconditioned 6-inch guns reached Brazil before the end of 1941 (only nine 
of them before February 1941). The procurement of the 6-inch guns added 
nothing to the defenses of Brazil, since the Brazilians were not able to get 
any ammunition for them in the United States or to manufacture it them- 
selves. In February 1942 the Brazilians were still trying to get better priorities 
in the United States in order to make some of the 6-inch and 7-inch guns 

The United States was actually considerably more successful in getting 
German arms rather than American arms into Brazil during 1940 and 1941. 
Deliveries on the order that Brazil had placed with the Krupp works in 1938 
had just started to arrive when the war in Europe began. Between Septem- 
ber 1939 and June 1940, the British permitted two shipments of German 
arms to reach Brazil via Italy. When Italy entered the war, the British 
clamped down on further German arms shipments. Nevertheless, the Germans 
in June 1940 were promising the Brazilians September deliveries, and in fact 
they continued to turn over title to armaments produced under the Krupp 
contract to a large Brazilian Army purchasing commission that remained in 
Essen, Germany, until December 1941. 

The British in November 1940 seized a Brazilian vessel, the Siquiera 
Campos, that was attempting to carry some of these arms from Lisbon to 
Brazil. The Brazilians immediately requested that the United States intercede 
with the British to get the arms released. Primarily at General Marshall's 
urging, the United States persuaded the British to release the ship, but the 
episode stirred anti-British sentiment in Brazil, especially among the higher 
officers of the Brazilian Army. Finally, in the summer of 1941, the British 
permitted an American vessel to pick up a load of German arms (mostly 
missing parts for equipment already delivered) at Lisbon and carry it to New 
York for transshipment to Brazil. Again, the intervention of General Marshall 
in securing this permission was perhaps decisive. Throughout, the United 
States Army seems to have done all it could to help the Brazilian Army se- 
cure delivery on their German armament order. By November 1941 Brazil 
had actually obtained about two hundred guns of various types from Germany, 
many of them not usable because of missing parts. While these guns repre- 

" Because of the extended delay in carrying out this sale, the Army records on it are par- 
ticularly voluminous. For terms, see Ltr, TAG to CofOrd, 22 Apr 40, and pen annotations on 
WPD copy, WPD 4244. There is a full summary of the negotiations down to October 1940 
in the report of Lt. Col. Lehman W. Miller to Ambassador Caffery, dated 10 October 1940, WPD 
4224-104. Thereafter, see: Memo, WPD for CofS, 17 Feb 41, WPD 4224-124; Memo for Record, 
Col Brett, 16 Jun 41, WPD 4224-160; and Min, first mtg of WD Munitions Assignment Com- 
mittee (Ground), 12 Feb 42, CCS 21210-32. 


sented only a fraction of the original order, they were far more than the 
United States was able to supply Brazil during the prewar period.^' 

The failure of the United States, for whatever good reasons, to make 
effective delivery of the coast defense equipment purchased by the Brazilians 
in early 1940, together with the Brazilian Army's failure to get more than a 
fraction of the arms ordered from Germany before the war, introduced a factor 
of irritation in Brazilian-American military relations that made it increasingly 
difficult to plan for the defense of the Brazilian bulge. Knowing that they 
could not obtain more than a small part of their German armaments order, 
the Brazilians realized that they must get large quantities of arms in the 
United States if they were to achieve their defense objective— responsibility 
for ground defensive measures in any joint United States-Brazilian operations 
that might have to be undertaken. On the other hand, until 19^2 the United 
States found it utterly impracticable, in view of its own and other nations' 
more urgent requirements for munitions, to make more than small token 
shipments of modern military equipment to Brazil.'** The arms supply prob- 
lem made the planning and execution of Army defense measures in Brazil 
far more complicated than the friendly preliminary staff conversations of 1939 
and the general prewar cordiality in Brazilian-American relations had seemed 
to augur. 

War Plans and Staff Agreements, 1940 

The war plans of the United States had recognized the vital importance 
of the Brazilian bulge in hemisphere defense long before Hitler loosed his 
onslaught against western Europe in the spring of 1940. The basic joint 
Rainbow l plan, approved in August 1939, placed the defense of Brazil at 
the top of the list of specific tasks to be undertaken by United States forces." 
General Emmons' survey in November 1939 reinforced the conviction that 
"the Natal area is of critical and utmost importance in the defense of the 
continental United States and the Panama Canal against a possible coalition 
of European nations." ^° The Army's Air Board in 1939 used the prospective 

" This paragraph and the preceding one are based principally on: Notes on SLC mtg, 23 Nov 
40; Memo, CofS for SW, 26 Nov 40. Both in SLC Min, Vol. I, Item 65. Memo, E. A. R. for SW, 
29 Nov 40, stating the British position, SW file, Brazil-Brazilian Vessel; Ltr, Gen Goes Monteiro 
to Gen Marshall, 30 Nov 40; Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Goes Monteiro, 14 Dec 40; Ltr, SW to 
Secy State, 15 Jan 41. Last three in AG 386.3 Brazil (11-30-40). Ltr, Under Secy State to CofS, 
10 Jun 41; Ltr, CofS to SW and Under Secy State, 11 Jun 41. Last two in AG 380 (1-13-41). 
Memo, Col Brett for Col Ridgway, 27 Nov 41, WPD 4224-200. 

' On the general problem of Latin American arms supply in 1940 and 1941, see Chapter IX 

'f JB 325, ser 642-1. See lCh. 1 1 above. 

2" Memo, Col Olds for CG GHQ Air Force, 1 Dec 39, WPD 4185-2. 



task of evicting a hostile air force from the BraziHan bulge as the yardstick 
for determining the strength required by the Army's air arm in hemisphere 
defense.^' During the fall and winter of 1939^0, the Army and Navy planners 
worked on detailed Rainbow 1 plans for dispatching an expeditionary force 
to Brazil, although the services did nothing more than plan until Hitler 
opened his western European offensive. 

Just before the German attack on France, President Roosevelt again ex- 
pressed concern about the security of Fernando de Noronha and suggested 
the immediate renewal of conversations with Brazil "to make definitely cer- 
tain that this Island will not be used by any European nations in case the 
European war spreads." Fernando de Noronha had a usable airfield and 
would have been a logical steppingstone in any German or Italian air approach 
to the Natal area. In response to the President's message, the Army and Navy 
proposed that the Department of State open conversations with the Brazilians 
to determine if they were prepared to act on the basis of the views expressed 
by Foreign Minister Aranha and General Goes Monteiro in 1939." Immedi- 
ately after the German attack began, General Goes Monteiro sent a message 
to General Marshall indicating his feeling "that closest collaboration between 
the United States and Brazil is vitally necessary as there is now a real and 
imminent danger confronting both countries." ^* The way toward intimate 
military collaboration with Brazil appeared clear. 

When the Germans smashed through the front of the western European 
Allies within a week, the United States Government feared that it might 
have to take drastic action to protect the vital and vulnerable Brazilian bulge. 
While the President's proposal for conversations with Brazil broadened into 
preparations for conducting military staff conversations with the American 
republics generally, United States authorities realized that any sort of con- 
versations would take time and that it was essential for the United States 
to be prepared to take emergency action to deal with either an external attack 
or an internal Nazi-inspired revolutionary movement in South America. At 
the President's direction, over one week end (25-27 May) the armed services 
hatched the impracticable Pot of Gold plan for rushing a 100,000-man 
force to Brazil." The Department of State agreed to send consular repre- 
sentatives to the Natal area to obtain a variety of current information needed 

" See jCh. l[ above. 

-- Memo, President Roosevelt for CNO, 30 Apr 40, copy in WPD 4224-86, printed in FDR 
Personal Letters, II, 1016. 

" Memo, CofS and CNO for Mr. Welles, 7 May 40, WPD 4224-116. 
Memo of Conv, 13 May 40, transmitted in Ltr, William C. Burdett, Counselor of Embassy, 

Rio, to Gen Mai 

> See 

Ch. II 

■shall, 17 May 40, WPD 4224-92. 



for planning the movement of American troops to the bulge.^^ A Nazi plot 
uncovered in Uruguay during the last week in May helped to confirm Ameri- 
can fears and sufficiently alarmed the Brazilians themselves so that they sent 
five thousand rifles to the Uruguayan Army." 

By mid-June Army detailed planning, based on the new joint Rainbow 4 
plan, projected a Northeastern Brazil theater as a prospective major area of 
operations in the event that Great Britain followed France in defeat.^** In 
July both the Army and Navy planning staffs believed that a highly prob- 
able development of the war, if Great Britain were defeated, would be a 
German drive through Africa and across the South Atlantic to Brazil. They 
feared this drive would be preceded or accompanied by Axis-inspired Latin 
American revolutionary movements, and they felt the prospect constituted 
the most serious military threat to the Western Hemisphere.^' 

When it appeared in the fall of 1940 that Great Britain could hold out 
at least until the following spring, the sense of urgency in planning for 
operations in Northeast Brazil subsided. Nevertheless, the Army considered 
it "well recognized" that a German penetration of North and West Africa 
and occupation of Dakar would make it "imperative for the United States 
to anticipate such action by the preventive occupation of the air fields and 
ports in northeastern Brazil." '° It was to facilitate an operation of this sort 
that the Army in November 1940 contracted with Pan American Airways 
for the improvement of and new construction of airfields between the United 
States and eastern South America, so that all types of combat aircraft could 
be deployed under their own power to the Brazilian bulge.'' 

All of these emergency plans required advance arrangements for "closest 
collaboration," as urged by the Brazilian Chief of Staff the preceding May. 
To make the arrangements the Army chose Lt. Col. Lehman W. Miller, an 
Engineer officer who had previously served with the Military Mission in 
Rio de Janeiro. Unlike the other officers dispatched from Washington at the 
beginning of June 1940 to conduct staff discussions in Latin America, Colo- 
nel Miller was to remain in the Brazilian capital, where he would serve as 
Chief of the Military Mission. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery and General 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 May 40; Memo, WPD for Dept of State, 27 May 40. Both in 
WPD 4115-17. 

" Hull, Memoirs, I, 820-21; Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 611-14; Ltr, 
Adm Pickens to Adm Stark, Rio de Janeiro, 26 Jun 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

" Plan for Development Rainbow #4, 17 Jun 40, AWC 111-41/20. 

The Army WPD view is indicated (among other places) in Memo of Conv with Mexican 
military representatives, 19 Jul 40, WPD 4338; the Navy WPD view in Memo for CNO, 11 
Jul 40, copy in WPD 4115-29. 

»°Jt E stimate of Situation, 25 Sep 40, WPD 4321-9. 

" See |Ch. X| above. 



Goes Monteiro both had requested his appointment tQ this position, and it 
was also planned to laise Colonel Miller to general dlSgeeitank to lend prestige 

Arriving in Rio dc Janeiro during ^e finatt Hreck of the French debacH- 
Col one! Miller found the Brazilians thoroughly alarmed over the turn of 
events in Europe and dubious of the ability of the United States to prorcct 
them or to help them to {Jtrntm themselves igamst hmist i^^M^ps^i&ii. 
The Brazilian Army immediately presented Colonel Miller with a list of the 
armaments it wanted —a Ipng list of material estimated to cost about 
,|liO;00&,OOOi: i^^^ &S^'Bcsmmii^^^^ibM^^^ tsfaim* supply 

must be settled bel&ie any staff discussion of mutual defense plans began, 
bat present]^ tis^ ^Kcd Jths fiwa pt&bl^ SWgJit i?Qll?lKkced 

An^lytlng^iSie'Siniation thc< d^y a&er his fitst disctt^ioa with Bnis^^. 

staff officers on the preparation of flWitt«4 ll^CttiSe 

potted to Ambassador Caffery: 

The present turn of events of the war in Europe is having a profoiiili) influence upon 
ill the authorities here in the Brazilian atmy, navy, and civil government. Although they 
do not trust Germany, they do have great admiration of the fighting machine of that 
country. They liivc no love for the' English, They do not wish co arouse the antagonism 
of Germany, because they know that Braril is not prepared and they believe that Germany 
is the only country that will furnish them wldi ^nas at reasonable terms. They strongiy 
doubt tba^ tbc Uniied States will be able to assist them with {QAtemL The fiite of neutral 
OXHlVUCS in l&atofe has raised doubts of the ability of the Ututed States to ptdteet them 
I^MA ii^pilaioft) c^iedally in the case of a coalition of powcfS acting^ against us. All of 
tfafeSTtSOAj^dentions tend to sticn^hen the pro-Nail clement in Brazil, and as GcrnUtiy 
i^iansoliiiates her gains in Europe the situation here in Brazil will grow 'WdlSi!! nidf^ iil^ 
mediate action is taken by our Government to combat it efifeaivcly." 

i^hw <kys mlktf Fonsign Minister Afitnha in a conversation with Ambasa." 
ijoc Cafiery had "made it forcibly clear , . , tbsltf the United Smces camiof 
find means to assist Brazil in act^uiring armament, necessarily the Brazilian 
military auchoriries will turn toward Germany and acquire armaments there 
, at the end of the war."** Until the United States indicawd -what actiott 
It ^^lilld take on the armament list submitted by the Brazilians, then, Hiefle 
inis Scant prospect of reaching any agreement on mutual defense plans. 
fi^l% actJMfnents te^uest b^camc^ tlie vehicle foit dkeGrininiQ^ a Lati^ 

«>MeiBi>. Coi^ for SW, 1 Jun 40, iS-tC; l^^t^' KlitlettD Ge^2t6u|^I, n }ua 40, 

Metoo, Col Miller for AmbttssadorCini^ir i7Ji>n 40, WPO 4224^)01^ MOAo 
widlnd»,WK) fat GofiS, 16 Jul 40, WPD 424440. 

**i«6*ao»C3ri Millet Eot Ambjssador OfEwy* ^j M#,. Wfi© 43?4^ti»i. 
«tii(3 3 10 Mew, WPD for i^S J&l WWP^^^ia 



Ridgway virtually reiterated the statement he had made a year previously: 
"Upon our willingness to supply, or definitely to promise to supply, this 
armament in the near future, appears to depend our future relations with 
Brazil." " After President Roosevelt approved a new Latin American 
arms policy on 1 August, the Department of State informed the Brazilians 
through Ambassador Caffery that their Army could "procure some of its 
equipment in the United States within the next few months" and all of it 
"within an estimated maximum period of three years." The Brazilians from 
President Vargas on down expressed their great pleasure on receiving the 
news.'^ Seemingly, the way was now open for negotiation and execution of 
an agreement with Brazil on mutual hemisphere defense plans and prepara- 
tions. Actually, grounds for a continued misunderstanding between the 
Brazilian and United States Armies remained. What the Brazilians wanted 
most was modern combat equipment. The Army had informed the Depart- 
ment of State that only automotive equipment and some noncombat aviation 
material (training planes) could be made available to Brazil in the near future. 
Apparently this point was not made clear to the Brazilians in August 1940." 
The Brazilians also seem to have been led to anticipate that they could get 
actual deliveries of some equipment "within the next few months," whereas 
the Army had meant that it would assist the Brazilians in placing orders for 
this equipment in the near future, but that it would be many months before 
the equipment could actually be delivered in Brazil. Finally, in the autumn 
of 1940 the United States Army began its own rapid expansion, and the 
United States Government veered toward a policy of all-out aid to Great 
Britain. With American industrial mobilization for war just getting under 
way, prospects of delivering any significant amounts of modern military equip- 
ment to Brazil were to become increasingly slim. 

The War Department in August authorized Colonel Miller to begin formal 
staff conversations with Brazilian Army representatives in order to work out 
a definite plan for military collaboration. The United States goal was a plan 
that would provide adequate means of insuring "the maintenance in Brazil of 
a Government, both determined and able, to preserve its territorial integrity 
and freedom from European control, and to cooperate fully with the United 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 8 Jul 40, WPD 4244-10. See lCh. IX[ above. 

Ltr, Ambassador Caffery to Under Secy State Welles, 7 Aug 40, WPD 4224-101. 

" Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 27. Jul 40; Memo for File, Aag ACofS WPD, 6 Nov 40. 
Both in WPD 4224-104. The latter memorandum records a conversation with Ambassador Caf- 
fery, then in Washington, during which the War Plans chief stated that General Marshall's July 
memorandum had not promised the early delivery of any combat equipment and also that the 
"major pan" of the arms that the United States planned to provide for Brazil could not become 
available until late 1942 or 1943. 



States in hemisphere defense." Colonel Miller's instructions, similar in con- 
text to those issued other Army officers sent out from Washington for the 
second round of staff conversations, emphasized the paramount concern of 
the Army for the security of the Brazilian bulge.'' Although Colonel Miller 
carried on informal conversations with the Brazilian staff during August and 
September, General Goes Monteiro presently indicated his preference for con- 
cluding the conversations in Washington. The Brazilian Chief of Staff, who 
was joining other Latin American military chiefs in a visit to the United 
States in October, wished to negotiate a staff agreement directly with General 
Marshall and his advisers. Through Colonel Miller, General Goes Monteiro 
transmitted to Washington a draft of the type of agreement Brazil wished.* 
In Washington General Goes Monteiro conferred first with General 
Marshall and afterward with his staff subordinates. He left with the latter 
a new draft for a staff agreement, dated 29 October 1940, that with some 
modifications was eventually accepted by both governments. The agreement 
in its final form contained a mutual pledge of armed assistance under two 
hypotheses: by Brazil, to any American nation (except Canada) attacked 
by any non-American power; by the United States, to Brazil if it were at- 
tacked by any non- American state. Brazilian aid under the first hypothesis 
would include the use of its air and naval bases and the supply of strategic 
raw materials, and Brazil pledged itself to prepare for rendering such aid by 
building up its defenses as rapidly as possible. Brazil also agreed to take the 
proper steps to suppress alien subversive activity within its borders. The 
United States promised to supply Brazil with arms and with material to de- 
velop its war industries and railway system to the degree that American 
resources, current programs, and legal restrictions permitted; in principle, the 
United States agreed to accept raw materials in payment for the armaments 
and other material furnished Brazil. The United States also promised "to 
bring up its armed forces to join Brazilian forces" in the defense of Brazil, 
in the event of an external attack before Brazil had completed its defense 
preparations.*' Although the staff agreement made no specific mention of 
Northeast Brazil, General Marshall subsequently recalled that he had had to 
fend off General Goes Monteiro's request for a definite pledge that the United 
States would employ its armed forces to guarantee the integrity of the bulge. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 16 Jul 40, WPD 4244-10. 
" Memo, WPD for G-2, 13 Aug 10, and Incls, WPD 4224-101. 

■'0 Memo, Gen Goes Monteiro for Col Miller, 21 Sep 40; Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen Strong, 
WPD, 9 Oct 40. Both in WPD 4224-101. 

A copy of this agreement in its final form is in WPD 4115-44. The Brazilian Army ap- 
proved it by Ltr, Gen Goes Monteiro to Gen Miller, 7 Apr 41, cited in WPD 4115-44; the United 
States Army, by Ltr, SW to Secy State, 26 Apr 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 



Also, the Brazilian Chief of Staff told American staff officers with whom he 
conferred that he thought Brazil would not object to an American aerial 
photographic survey of strategic points along the Brazilian coast, or to a sur- 
vey "on the ground" by United States Army medical officers. Underlying the 
Brazilian Army's proposals and United States Army's acceptance of them was 
the understanding that the United States would render substantial material 
assistance in strengthening Brazilian defenses and defense forces.''^ 

United States Navy staff conversations paralleled those of the Army dur- 
ing September and October 1940. The Navy reached a satisfactory agreement 
with its Brazilian counterpart, the Brazilian Navy promising "to interpose 
no objections to advance discreet operations of United States Naval Forces 
in the Natal area and outlying Islands, both ashore and afloat." These opera- 
tions could be carried on in advance of any actual attack from abroad against 
this area.*' 

The Army and Navy staff agreements with Brazil negotiated in the autumn 
of 1940 provided the base for the subsequent military co-operation of the 
United States with Brazil during World War II. General Goes Monteiro on 
his return to the Brazilian capital gave President Vargas a favorable report 
on his reception in the United States, on the progress of American defense 
preparations, and on the prospect for close co-operation with the United States 
in hemisphere defense measures. General Marshall's intervention during 
November on behalf of Brazil in the Siquiera Campos affair provided an addi- 
tional impetus to the spirit of friendship that had characterized the staff 
conversations.'*'' But troubled waters lay ahead. Nearly two years were to 
elapse before Brazil and the United States achieved the close plane of mili- 
tary collaboration forecast by the staff agreements of 1940. 

The Mission of General Amaro Bittencourt 

When Ambassador Caffery in August 1940 officially informed the Brazilian 
Government that it could expect in time to receive substantial quantities 
of armaments from the United States, he suggested that Brazil send a ranking 
officer to the United States to negotiate for the material. In September Brazil 
chose General Amaro Soares Bittencourt, First Sub-Chief of the General 
Staff, to carry out this mission. After the tentative approval by both govern- 

" Memo, Col Ridgway for ACofS WPD, 30 Oct 40; Memo, ACofS WPD for CofS, 30 Oct 40. 
Both in WPD 4224-101, Summary of Staff Conv with Amer Reps, Aug-Oct 40, Sec. 4, WPD 
4115-44; remarks of Gen Marshall at SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 42. 
Ltt, Actg SN to Secy State, 14 Nov 40, OPD Misc 61. 

Ltr, Gen Goes Monteiro to Gen Marshall, 30 Nov 40, and other papers, AG 386.3 Brazil 



ments of a military staff agreement, General Amaro's mission was broadened 
to include the detailed negotiations that would be required to put the agree- 
ment into effect. His credentials, delivered to General Marshall in mid- 
December, stated that as soon as an understanding on the question of arms 
supply had been reached, he would become "Head of the Brazilian Military 
Committee" in the United States and the main channel for all military com- 
munications between the two governments.'*' 

General Amaro opened his formal conversations with American authori- 
ties on 8 January 1941. He first talked with Under Secretary of State Welles, 
who assured him that the Department of State would arrange for credits to 
finance the purchase of as much war material as the Army could release to 
Brazil— either surplus from its own stocks or new equipment to be ordered 
from private manufacturers. On the same day, General Amaro discussed his 
problems with General Marshall and his staff assistants. The Chief of Staff 
explained frankly that, while the Army would do all it could to help Brazil 
obtain modern armaments as soon as possible, there was very little that could 
be done in the immediate future. The rapidly expanding United States Army 
and the fighting forces of the democracies abroad had to have first claim on 
American munitions production. General Marshall promised only that Brazil's 
requests would be given preference over those of the other Latin American 

The list of armaments presented by General Amaro was identical with 
that delivered to Colonel Miller the preceding June, except that Brazil now 
added to it the items that had been ordered from Germany but never de- 
livered. War Department officers calculated that the expanded Brazilian 
requests would cost about $250,000,000, and they noted that Brazil wanted 
some items "in quantities in excess of the total amount available to United 
States forces and in at least one item, 37-mm. AP [armor-piercing] shell, in 
in a quantity 50 percent greater than the combined total of United States 
and British requirements." Obviously, they concluded, the Brazilian request 
would have to be reduced.*' General Amaro himself made a preliminary re- 
duction by submitting a "first priority" listing, but this still amounted to 
nearly one half of the total. United States officers then worked out a tenta- 
tive schedule specifying when the Brazilians could expect the items on the 

Memo, Gen Goes Monteiro for Col Miller, 21 Sep 40, WPD 4224-101; Memo, WPD for 
CofS, 6 Nov 40, and other papers in WPD 4224-104; Ltr, Gen Dutra to Gen Marshall, 20 Nov 
40, and other papers, AG 335.11 Brazil (11-18-40). 

■"^ Paper, title: Memo of Conf between CofS and Gen Amaro Bittencourt . . ., Jan 8, 1941, 
WPD 4224-109; SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 2; Memo, Col Miller for CofS, 6 Feb 41, WPD 4224-116, 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 25 Jan 41, WPD 4224-114. 



priority list to become available. They divided it into three groups: (1) mate- 
rial that could be made available at once out of Army stocks— a few con- 
trolled mines and Waco primary training planes; (2) material that could be 
obtained in the near future if orders for it were placed immediately— other 
types of primary trainers and various items of military automotive equip- 
ment; and (3) material on which no deliveries could be made before Novem- 
ber 1941 at the earliest— the great bulk of the items asked for, and all of the 
combat items. The three lists were communicated to General Amaro on 
15 January 1941, and on the next day he replied that Brazil now had a clear 
picture of what it could expect from the United States in the way of arms 

Toward the end of January the Army proposed that a credit of $12,000,000 
be made available to Brazil immediately to permit the procurement of the 
material in the first two groupings, as well as to finance the remaining ex- 
pense for modernizing and making usable the coast defense guns sold to 
Brazil in 1940. Working from the Brazilian first priority list, the Army also 
calculated an over-all schedule that would provide Brazil with arms valued 
at $80,000,000 within the ensuing two and a half years. This schedule in turn 
became the yardstick for calculating the arms allotments for all of the other 
Latin American nations. On 7 February the Army recommended that the 
Department of State arrange for credits for all items on the new schedule, 
so that Brazil could at least place orders for these items with American manu- 
facturers. The Department of State wanted to postpone the question of credits 
until the passage of the Lend-Lease Act, but was finally persuaded in March 
to arrange with the Export-Import Bank for the $12,000,000 credit initially 
recommended by the Army.'" 

The American- Brazilian arms negotiation during January and February 1941 
had in effect cleared the air by letting the United States Army know what 
Brazil wanted most and by letting the Brazilian Army know what the real 
chances of procurement were. But it had not produced a promise of early 
delivery of any modern combat equipment to Brazil, and therefore held no 
promise that Brazil could prepare its Army for joint defensive operations 
with American forces in Northeast Brazil. 

In December 1940 the Army had wanted to hasten the preparations for 
operations on the Brazilian bulge. The current joint war plan (Rainbow 4) 

"* Memo for Record, Col Ridgway, 10 Jan 41, WPD 4113-30; Memo, Col Ridgway for Brig 
Gen Lehman W. Miller, 5 May 4l, WPD 4224-143. 

Memos, CofS for Under Secy State, 25 Jan and 7 Feb 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2; 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 Mar 4 l, WPD 4224-131: Notes on SLC mtg, 24 Mar 41, SLC Min, 

Vol. II, Item 13. See also Ch. IX above. 



called for the movement of a reinforced triangular division to Brazil imme- 
diately after a war emergency required putting the plan into full effect. Indeed, 
this movement to Brazil was to precede any other deployment or reinforce- 
ment of Army forces in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas.'" Extensive advance 
preparations would, of course, be needed to receive this force. Work on the 
Brazilian airfields to be constructed or improved by Pan American was about 
to begin. But in addition to the work contracted for, the fields needed bomb 
and gasoline storage and other service facilities, and quarters for technicians 
and troop guards. The Navy also needed many new facilities at ports around 
the Brazilian bulge for its projected South Atlantic operations. The War 
Plans Division thought that what the Army ought to do in advance of any 
Rainbow 4 situation, if it could, was to put small American troop units near 
the major airfields in order to insure against sudden and surprise seizure of 
them by Axis air forces. The United States should then finance further mili- 
tary improvements in the area to prepare it for large-scale troop occupation 
if necessary, and also should draft joint war plans with Brazil to govern the 
conduct of such military operations in Northeast Brazil as might develop. 
Solely from the military point of view, the Army would have much preferred 
that the United States lease bases in Brazil, since leased bases could have 
been occupied at will by United States forces. On the other hand, War Plans 
recognized the high improbability of Brazil agreeing to any such lease 

During the October conversations, General Goes Monteiro and Colonel 
Ridgway had discussed the possibility of sending some modern equipment 
and a small body of American troops to the Brazilian bulge. Initially, the 
American troops would teach Brazilian soldiers how to use the material, but 
afterward the Americans might be permitted to remain to help guard the 
airfields. In meetings on 3 January 1S>41, General Marshall discussed this 
proposal first with his staff and then with Admiral Stark and Under Secre- 
tary of State Welles. By that time the proposal involved placing one com- 
pany of American soldiers at each of five airfield sites. Both Mr. Welles and 
Admiral Stark approved the idea, and suggested that the Army take the 
matter up directly with General Amaro." Late in January, having made some 

"> Memo, Col McNarney for Gen Gerow, WPD, 19 Dec 40, OPD Exec 4, Item 5. 

'1 Memo, WPD for CofS, 19 Dec 40, WPD 4224-106. About this time, military observer 
Hanson Baldwin was urging the lease of a large air base site at Natal, to be "under the complete 
sovereignty and military control of the United States." He argued that the base was of such vital 
importance to hemisphere defenf? that the United States ought to be prepared to offer Brazil 
$100,000,000 for it. Baldwin, United We Stand, pp. 108, 217. 

" Notes on Conf in OCS, 3 Jan 41, OCS Conf Binder 8; Notes on SLC mtg, 3 Jan 41, SLC 
Min, Vol. II, Item 1; Note for Record on Memo, SGS for WPD, 4 Jan 41, WPD 4113-50. 



progress on the arms supply question, Colonels Ridgway and Miller (the 
latter having been summoned to Washington to participate in the conferences 
with General Amaro) broached the subject. General Amaro doubted that 
Brazil would allow American troops to be stationed at five different locations 
for any purpose. As an alternative, he suggested that a troop training center 
be set up in the vicinity of Natal or Recife and that the United States "send 
there small groups and the necessary material to instruct Brazilian personnel 
in the use of bombardment and fighter aircraft, antiaircraft artillery and coast 
defense material (155-mm. gun), communications, and organization of base 
facilities." General Amaro's plan contemplated that after the training period 
the material would be turned over to the Brazilian Army and the American 
personnel would be returned to the United States." Acting on General 
Amaro's suggestion, the Army worked out a plan for sending a total force 
of nearly fourteen hundred officers and enlisted men, equipped with forty-six 
airplanes and a substantial number of antiaircraft and coast defense guns. 
General Amaro, when shown this plan, urged a reduction in the number of 
personnel and insisted that the training center must be under Brazilian com- 
mand. Since he also indicated rather clearly that he wanted a more definite 
commitment on arms supply before urging his government to accept any 
training center proposal, nothing ftirther came of the project.'* 

Before Colonel Miller returned to Rio de Janeiro, he left his impressions 
for War Department guidance. He insisted that the great majority of the 
Brazilians were "pro-American, pro-British, and anti-Axis." Nevertheless, 
they were highly nationalistic, jealous of their sovereignty, and opposed to 
any measure that could be interpreted as an infringement on Brazilian 
sovereignty. The Brazilians wanted to participate in hemisphere defense 
measures, not merely to acquiesce in them. The United States ought there- 
fore to furnish Brazil with what arms it could, and it ought also to assist 
rather than hinder the development of a Brazilian armaments industry. 
While the United States, with Brazilian approval, might properly help pre- 
pare air and naval bases in Northeast Brazil, this should be done "with the 
understanding that such bases are Brazilian and will be defended by Brazilian 
forces until such time as the Brazilian Government requests their defense by 
our forces." Colonel Miller cautioned against any attempt by the United 
States to lease bases in Brazil or to place American armed forces in Brazilian 

'» Memo, Col Ridgway for ACofS WPD, 29 Jan 41, WPD 4224-116. 

'■t Various papers, WPD 4224-116, WPD 4224-117, WPD 4224-118, WPD 4224-119, espe- 
cially paper, title: Summary of Conversations ... 5 Feb 41, WPD 4224-119. 



bases before "the realization by the Brazilians that an armed attack against 
them is imminent." " All of this was sound advice, but it did not solve the 
problem that worried the United States Army most — how to insure that Brazil 
would call on the United States for armed assistance in time to ward off an 
actual attack. The presence of only token American forces in Northeast Brazil 
would probably discourage any Axis attack, whereas to evict even a token Axis 
force would be a large undertaking. 

Military negotiations with Brazil were at a virtual standstill for three 
months after the January and February conferences. General Amaro remained 
in charge of Brazilian military purchasing activities in Washington, but after 
February defense negotiations were conducted through Ambassador Caffery 
and Colonel Miller in Rio de Janeiro. Internal differences of opinion among 
Brazilian civilian and military officials seem to have been primarily responsi- 
ble for the failure of Brazil to take immediate advantage of the $12,000,000 
credit for military material extended in early March. 

With respect to plans and projects for joint defense operations, the 
Brazilian Army at the beginning of March informed Colonel Miller of a new 
scheme for strengthening Northeast Brazil. It proposed to station perma- 
nently three of its five existing infantry divisions in Northeast Brazil and 
to organize three new antiaircraft battalions to reinforce the three divisions. 
It asked that the United States send modern equipment for the units by Sep- 
tember 1941 and also that the United States supply the equipment for new 
Brazilian infantry divisions to be recruited to guard the vital southern part 
of the country. The War Plans Division in Washington expressed some con- 
cern over this projected redistribution of the Brazilian Army and termed it 
"impracticable" to supply the quantity of equipment that Brazil wanted."' 
In April Brazil abandoned this scheme and proposed, instead, to schedule 
maneuvers for three divisions plus supporting naval and air forces in North- 
east Brazil during August and September. This proposal prompted the Ameri- 
can planners to suggest that American forces be sent to participate in the 
maneuvers. They proposed an American force, consisting of a composite air 
group, antiaircraft, signal, and engineer battalions, and some medical troops, 
to operate during the maneuvers under Brazilian command. After Mr. Welles 
approved the proposal. General Marshall asked Brig. Gen. Lehman W. Miller 
to sound out the Brazilians.'' 

" Memo, Col Miller for Col Ridgway, 13 Feb 41, WPD 4224-122. 
5^ Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Mar 4l, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 24 Apr 4l, WPD 4224-141; Memo, WPD for DCofS Arnold, 5 
May 41, OPD Exec 13; Lrt, Gen Marshall to Gen Millet, 6 May 41, WPD 4224-150. 



The Security Force Plan, June 1941 

At this point, the Army's concern for the security of the Brazilian bulge 
flared anew. Secret Nazi negotiations with Vichy's Admiral Darlan, climaxed 
on 15 May by a public announcement that Darlan had reached an agreement 
with Hitler, created a state of genuine alarm in Washington." German oc- 
cupation of Dakar seemed imminent. On the morning of 16 May the chiefs 
of the War Plans and Military Intelligence Divisions, after conferring with 
each other, urged General Marshall to take immediate action on Brazil. With 
Department of State approval, the Chief of Staff sent Colonel Ridgway to 
Rio de Janeiro that afternoon, with the mission of securing immediate Bra- 
zilian agreement to joint staff planning in Brazil and to dispatching United 
States Army forces to Northeast Brazil at the earliest possible moment.'^ 
In conferences on 20 and 22 May, with Ambassador Caffery present, Colonel 
Ridgway conveyed his messages and the sense of urgency behind them, but 
he did not get any specific answer on either point. Foreign Minister Aranha 
advised that only a strong personal appeal to President Vargas would be 
likely to secure Brazil's approval of these measures. By such an appeal, Bra- 
zilian consent was obtained on 31 May to sending an American Army joint 
staff planning group to Brazil, but the Foreign Minister, the Ambassador, 
and General Miller all advised Colonel Ridgway that President Vargas would 
not be likely to approve the stationing of American troops in Northeast 
Brazil unless President Roosevelt personally requested it. The Brazilians, 
Colonel Ridgway reported, were looking to Mr. Roosevelt for strong leader- 
ship — as also were the American Secretaries of War and Navy at this time.* 

In the meantime, the Army and Navy planning staffs in Washington 
were preparing for what appeared to be an imminent threat of American in- 
volvement in the war. On 22 May the Joint Plans and Projects Section of 
the Army's War Plans Division proposed the American garrisoning of naval 
and air bases in Northeast Brazil as the most immediately practicable move 
to counter the German threat. On the same day, President Roosevelt gave 
the Army and Navy a directive to prepare for the occupation of the Azores 
within thirty days. As between the Azores and Northeast Brazil projects, 
the Army planners unanimously favored the latter. The most telling argu- 

See lCh. V[ above. 

" Memo, Maj Mathewson for Gen Gerow, 21 May 41, WPD 4224-150; Memo, Col Ridgway 
for Gen Gerow, 23 Jul 41, WPD 4115-52; Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen Marshall, 23 Dec 4l, 
OPD Exec 6, Book 1. 

^ Notes on Confs in Rio, 20 and 22 May 4l, WPD 4224-155; Draft of JB 325, ser 695, 

May 41 (Incl 2 to Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 Jun 41), WPD 4516; Memo WPD for CofS, 

7 Jul 41, WPD 4516-6; Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, pp. 364-76. See |Ch. v[ above. 



ment in its favor was that the estabHshment of a comparatively small, bal- 
anced American force on the shoulder of Brazil would be the most effective 
hemisphere defense measure that the United States could then undertake- 
indeed, the only one that it could undertake with any certainty of success. 
In co-operation with the Brazilian Army, small American forces could hold 
Northeast Brazil against a strong Axis attack— and an Axis force from Africa 
could not bypass the Brazilian bulge and attack any other South American 
position. With the Brazilian flank secure, the United States couU prepare 
the great bulk of its forces for operations that might have to be undertaken 
in the decisive European theater. '^^ 

After Colonel Ridgway's return to Washington, General Marshall directed 
him to draft a memorandum for Under Secretary of State Welles recom- 
mending immediate action to get troops into Brazil. On his own initiative 
Colonel Ridgway broadened the scope of his recommendations. In order, as 
he put it, "to avoid the fault line of cleavage which divides Portuguese 
speaking from Spanish speaking Latin America," he recommended that 
simultaneous requests be made to Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela 
for permission to garrison bases within their territory, and also for unrestricted 
transit privileges for armed American aircraft. Other War Plans officers not 
only approved Colonel Ridgway's proposals but also thought them so urgent 
and important that they ought to go direct from the Chief of Staff or Secre- 
tary of War to the President. For this reason Colonel Ridgway's draft was 
converted into a Joint Planning Committee paper that, after Joint Board ap- 
proval, would go directly to President Roosevelt. This maneuver backfired. 
The chief Navy planner held that the Navy had no immediate interest in the 
use of Colombian, Venezuelan, or Ecuadoran ports, and preferred to nego- 
tiate separately with Mexico. The Navy, furthermore, had already obtained 
Brazil's approval for the use of the ports of Recife and Belem by surface ves- 
sels of the Atlantic patrol force. To the Army planners it seemed, "the Navy, 
having secured rrom Brazil permission for immediate use of its northeast 
harbors for such preparations as it may desire, does not see the urgency of 
the action we propose." From this point onward, the Army, in planning 
for Brazilian operations, had to cope with Navy as well as Department of 
State and Brazilian objections. 

^' JP&P Sec study, 22 May 41, Incl A to Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 May 41, WPD 4224-155; 
Memo, Lt Col L. S. Gerow for Gen Gerow, 27 May 41, WPD 4422-5. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 3 Jun 41, and other papers, WPD 4516. The Army had learned on 
2 1 April that Brazil had approved the use of its harb)ors by the United States Navy. SLC Min, Vol. 
II, Item 20. 



The immediate consequence was that the recommendations on Brazil 
jointly approved in early June were considerably milder than those desired 
by the Army. Even so, they stated forthrightly: 

a. That the present military situation is such as to warrant securing immediately the 
consent of the Government of Brazil to the movement of United States Aimy and Navy 
security forces to Northeast Biazil. 

b. That this peimission should be secuted now without waiting for an actual attack by 
a non-American powet and a request fot armed aid which, under existing staff agreements, 
ate the conditions precedent to the entrance of United States armed forces into Brazil. 

c. That permission be obtained concuirently for the transit of United States military 
armed aircraft across the territory and territorial waters of Colombia and Venezuela; and 
for the use of their airports, sea ports, and other facilities as may be nccessaiy incident to 
such movement. 

The Joint Board approved the recommendations on 7 June and formally 
transmitted them to the President six days later.''' A copy of the recommen- 
dations also went to Mr. Welles, who gave them his qualified approval at 
the Standing Liaison Committee meeting on 10 June. He thought Army 
troops could be introduced into Brazil "oh a basis of participation in ma- 
neuvers." '''' On 17 June General Marshall informed the Under Secretary that 
the Army wished to send a balanced force consisting of "aviation, antiaircraft 
artillery, infantry, field artillery, and service elements totalling approximately 
9,300 troops and 43 planes," and that the Army and Navy were prepared to 
move this force on twenty days' notice.''' 

The War Plans Division in the meantime had continued to urge a move- 
ment of Army troops to Brazil as the one above all others under consider- 
ation that would place an "effective bar to Axis penetration without [risking 
Army} involvement in major operations," that would provide the Latin 
Americans with an absolute assurance that the United States intended to im- 
plement real hemisphere defense, and that would also "serve as definite sup- 
port to friendly South American governments now faced with very danger- 
ous Axis political and subversive activities." '''' On the morning of 19 June- 
three days before the German attack on the Soviet Union— Secretary Stimson 
drafted a letter to the President stating, "recent news from North Africa 
makes it very clear that we must act immediately to save the situation in 

JB 325, ser 695, 4 Jun 4l, copy in AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2; Ltr, SW and SN to Presi- 
dent, 13 Jun 41, and other papers, WPD 4516. 

" Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 5 Jun 41, WPD 4516; Memo, WPD for CofS, 9 Jun 41, 
OPD 334.8 Ln Com; Notes on SLC mtg, 10 Jun 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 29. 

« Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 17 Jun 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. See also Langer 
and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 518-19, 600-605, on American-Brazilian negotiations during 
the summer and autumn of 1941. 

f>f> Memo, WPD for CofS, 14 Jun 41, OPD Exec 4, Item 7. 



Brazil." When Mr. Stimson talked with General Marshall about the mat- 
ter, they decided it ought to be presented to the President in person at once. 
They did so the same morning, and President Roosevelt promised he would 
direct the Department of State to find ways and means of getting American 
troops into Brazil in the very near future. The President said that he thought 
the best way would be to get Brazil to offer the United States a limited 
lease on an Army air base site in the Natal region, and he proposed to talk 
with Mr. Welles along this line. Since General Marshall knew that the De- 
partment of State was as strongly opposed as the Latin Americans themselves 
were to the lease by the United States of military bases in other American 
nations, he had good reason for doubting the results of the President's direc- 
tive to the Department of State.-'** 

The German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June unquestionably had 
much to do with postponing the movement of American troops to Brazil. 
Nevertheless, though this attack ended the immediate threat of German 
penetration into West Africa, the Army still wanted to put a security force 
on the Brazilian bulge as soon as possible. Secretary Stimson considered that 
the new strategic situation provided the United States with a golden oppor- 
tunity for securing "the protection of one hemisphere in the South Atlantic" 
as well as for strengthening the Anglo-American position in the North At- 
lantic. In early July Mr. Stimson wanted the President to announce the 
impending movement of Army troops to Brazil along with his public dis- 
closure of the arrival of American forces in Iceland.^" General Gerow hoped 
to get the Army excused from participation in the Iceland occupation and to 
earmark the troops being prepared for that purpose as expeditionary forces 
for Brazil and other southern Atlantic danger points.'' General Miller in Rio 
was instructed "to take every practicable measure to obtain the desired con- 
sent of the Brazilian Government" to the movement of the 9,300-man secu- 
rity force to the Natal area, ostensibly for participation in the Brazilian 
Army maneuvers scheduled for August and September 1941. Before this in- 
struction reached him, General Miller reported that the Brazilian Chief of 
Staff had expressed an opinion that some sort of American participation in 
the maneuvers might be arranged, but he also stated that Foreign Minister 

Ltr (not used), SW for President, 19 Jun 41, Stimson Diary. 

Stimson Diary, entry of 19 Jun 41; Gerow Diary, entry of 19 Jun 41; Memo, Gen Marshall 
for WPD, 21 Jun 41, WPD 4516. 

<''> Memo, SW for President, 23 Jun 41, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

Study, n.d. [early July 1941], title: Draft Suggestions for President's Report to Congress, 
SW file. White House. 

Gerow Diary, entry of 26 Jun 41. 



Aranha and Ambassador CalFery were opposed to the idea. This report led 
General Marshall once again to urge Mr. Welles to renewed elForts to attain 
the Army's objective, "upon which," the Chief of Staff noted, "you. Admiral 
Stark and I are all agreed, and which has the President's approval." The 
Under Secretary responded that President Roosevelt had addressed a person- 
al and confidential message to President Vargas, that a reply to it was antic- 
ipated in the near future, and therefore that he thought it undesirable to take 
any new step to secure Brazilian consent to American participation in the 
maneuvers.^^ Actually, the plan for immediately putting troops into Brazil 
had already been sidetracked, presumably because the changed strategic out- 
look had, from the nonmilitary point of view, reduced its urgency. 

The scheme suggested in April of having a United States Army force par- 
ticipate in Brazilian maneuvers had contemplated sending auxiliary troops 
only, not infantry; the June plan, in contrast, proposed a balanced composite 
force built around an infantry regiment. Though Brazilian Army leaders had 
been cautiously receptive (though not enthusiastic) toward the first idea, 
they wanted no part of the second. After receiving General Marshall's mem- 
orandum of 17 June on the subject. Under Secretary Welles promptly in- 
formed Ambassador Caffery of the new security force proposal. When the 
Ambassador mentioned it informally to Foreign Minister Aranha, the latter 
"literally threw up his hands in consternation." Because of this reaction Mr. 
Caffery instructed General Miller not to engage in any discussion of the pro- 
ject with Brazilian military authorities, and General Miller himself charac- 
terized the June plan as "a wolf in sheep's clothing which seemed very dan- 
gerous and capable of producing a very unfavorable reaction in Brazil." " In 
a subsequent conversation with Ambassador Caffery, Mr. Aranha echoed the 
sentiment of Chief of Staff Goes Monteiro that under existing circumstances 
no Brazilian government could survive the approval of a proposition such as 
that advanced by the United States Army in June. The Brazilians avoided a 
direct refusal by abandoning their planned maneuvers.^'* 

President Roosevelt never did issue a clear directive to the Department 
of State to find ways and means of getting Army troops into Brazil, either 
during June or at any time before 7 December 1941. The personal message 
that Mr. Roosevelt finally sent to President Vargas on 10 July did not even 

Memo, WPD for Gen Miller, 23 Jun 4l, WPD 4224-164; Memo, WPD for CofS, 12 Jul 
41; Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 14 Jul 41. Last two in WPD 4113-109. Ltr, Mr. Welles to 
Gen Marshall, 15-Jol 41, WPD 4516. 

"Report of Gen Miller, 8 Aug 41, WPD 4516-26. 

Memo, Gen Miller for WPD, 14 Oct 4l, WPD 4224-186; Langer and Gleason, Undeclared 
War, p. 602. 



mention the possible movement of Army troops to Brazil. Instead, it em- 
bodied Ambassador CafFery's suggestion that Brazil be asked to agree to the 
use of token Brazilian forces to help guard Dutch Guiana and the Azores, 
and President Vargas gave his consent to this proposal.^' But this approach, 
designed to lead to an exchange of Brazilian and American defense forces, 
accomplished nothing. A subsequent proposal to put a contingent of Brazil- 
ian troops into Puerto Rico likewise came to naught, since for technical rea- 
sons neither the Brazilian nor the American Army regarded it with any en- 
thusiasm.^*^ In effect, then, the Army failed to persuade President Roosevelt 
to make the strong personal appeal to President Vargas that the situation 
had seemed to warrant from the military point of view. 

As soon as it began to appear that the security force plan was being stale- 
mated. Colonel Ridgway suggested a new scheme: first, the Navy would ob- 
tain Brazilian permission to base patrol planes at Natal; then, with Brazil's 
consent, the Navy would request the assistance of Army long-range recon- 
naissance planes of the B-17 type; upon the arrival of the B-17's, the Navy 
would provide a Marine Corps detachment to guard the Army planes; and, 
finally (again, with Brazilian consent). Army security detachments would re- 
place the Marine Corps guards. The Navy promptly approved the plan, and 
until 1942 supported it as the best way to get Army troops into Brazil.''' For 
nearly two months after this exchange, the Army held its own troop move- 
ment plan in abeyance, awaiting the outcome of Department of State and 
Navy negotiations. 

Joint Staff and General Headquarters Planning 

The Army had better success in getting action on the other major ob- 
jective of Colonel Ridgway's hurried mission to Brazil in May 194l— the 
joint staff planning project for combined Brazilian- American ground and air 
operations that might have to be undertaken in Northeast Brazil. The Bra- 
zilian Chief of Staff had suggested such planning in October 1940, and on 
31 May 1941 he tentatively agreed that it should begin in Brazil in the im- 

" Notes on SLC mtg, 18 Aug 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 33; Incl 1 to Memo, WPD for CofS, 
10 Nov 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 

'« Gerow Diary, entry of 31 Aug 41; Memo (not used), WPD for CoK, Sep 41; Memo, 

M. B. R. [Ridgway} for Col Crawford, WPD, 20 Sep 41. Last two in WPD 4516-20. Memo, 
Col Ridgway for Gen Gerow, WPD, 30 Sep 41, WPD 4516-27. A principal difficulty was the 
wide dififerential in soldier pay, an American infantry regiment at this time being paid approxi- 
mately $900,000 more annually than a comparable Brazilian regiment, 

" Memo, WPD for Dir Navy WPD, 3 Jul 41, and notations thereon of 9 Jul 41, WPD 4224- 
167; Memo, Adm Stark for Gen Marshall, 2 Sep 41, WPD 4516-20; Notes on SLC mtg, 12 Nov 
41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 36. 



mediate future, though he requested a formal written proposal to govern its 
scope and conduct. The War Plans Division drafted and secured the Depart- 
ment of State's approval of the proposal before 11 June, but it was delayed 
in transmission and did not reach the Brazilian capital until the last day of 
the month.'" In slightly revised form, the draft became the Brazilian-American 
Joint Planning Agreement, signed on 24 July 1941. This agreement was 
based on the existing Joint Staff Agreement of 29 October 1940. It provided 
for a joint planning group of six Brazilian and five United States staff officers 
that was to survey the military requirements of Northeast Brazil and plan 
the contribution each nation should make to the defense of the area. The 
group's planning was to be subject to certain limitations, among them the 

(1) In case of a positive threat against any part of Brazilian territory, and when she 
considers it appropriate, Brazil will be able to request the assistance of forces of the United 
States, at the points and for the time determined in advance by Brazil. 

(2) The air and naval bases in the territory of Brazil will be commanded and main- 
tained by Brazilian forces and only on request of its government may they be occupied 
also by United States forces, as an element of reenforcement.'' 

The United States Army hoped that an early Brazilian request for assistance 
from American forces would come out of the joint planning work. 

The Army selected an Infantry officer, Col. Dennis E. McCunniff, to head 
the United States section of the Joint Planning Group, and gave Colonel 
McCunniff and his colleagues a dual mission. They were to participate with 
Brazilian officers in joint planning, and independently they were to "engage 
in planning for the execution of so much of Rainbow No. 4 as applies to the 
Northeast Brazil Theater." "" The Army's RAINBOW 4 theater plan, drafted 
the preceding summer, provided for the movement, if necessary, of more 
than sixty thousand United States troops to the Brazilian bulge. The United 
States planners before their departure spent three days at General Headquar- 
ters in early July studying the plan and other data on Brazil.**' In effect, the 
United States Army in the summer of 1941 was planning alternative courses 
of action in Brazil. If the war outlook in the Atlantic remained relatively 
favorable, the Army wanted to put a 9,300-man security force into Northeast 
Brazil as a reinforcement for Brazilian forces; if the situation worsened, 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 7 Jul 41, WPD 4516-6; Tab A co Memo, WPD for CofS, 10 Nov 
41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 

Term of Agreement, signed at Rio de Janeiro, 24 Jul 41, by Gen. Eurico G. Dutra and Brig. 
Gen. Lehman W, Miller, WPD 4115-44. 

Instructions to U.S. Army Reps-Brazil-U.S. Planning Group, 2 Jul 41, WPD 4516-7. 

Incl 2 to Instructions cited in footnote 80, above; Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 15 Sep 41, 
WPD 3209-14. 



either because of the collapse of Great Britain or in the event of a German 
occupation of West Africa, the Army planners considered that it would be 
necessary to send a much larger American force to Brazil. 

Before the arrival of the United States members of the Joint Planning 
Group in Rio on 16 July, Ambassador Caffery had been rather strongly crit- 
ical of the delay in getting joint planning under way, and particularly of the 
formal way in which the Americans had approached it. Since early May the 
Ambassador had also been protesting the failure of the United States Army 
to live up to its "commitments" to supply the Brazilians with arms. General 
Marshall told Mr. Welles that Mr. Caffery's "misapprehensions" ought to be 
corrected "for the common good." On the other hand, neither Mr. Caffery 
nor the Department of State appears to have been informed about the Rain- 
bow 4 aspects of the Army's Brazil plans. Though not exactly working at 
cross purposes, the War and State Departments were certainly not working 
in close co-ordination between June and December 1941 in furthering the 
Army's plans for operations in Brazil. 

After preliminary conferences in the Brazilian capital, eight of the eleven 
members of the Joint Planning Group participated in a month's reconnais- 
sance of the Brazilian bulge and the island of Fernando de Noronha. The 
United States members then prepared a Northeast Brazil defense plan, which 
proposed Natal and Recife at the eastern tip of the bulge and Belem at the 
mouth of the Amazon as the sites for major air bases and supply installa- 
tions. The Brazilians accepted this plan in principle, though they contended 
that Brazil could furnish all the ground troops necessary to implement it. 
There was full agreement on the need for additional air base and communi- 
cations facilities, and the Brazilians proposed that a permanent United States- 
Brazilian Army board be established at once "to study and prescribe the con- 
struction recommended and material required to implement the proposed 
plan." With this much accomplished, the United States members departed 
for home on 5 October.**' 

During the period of joint planning the Brazilians allowed United States 
Army officers to make a separate medical survey of Northeast Brazil, but 
they would not let United States Army planes map the area, though they 
promised to do so themselves and make the results available to the United 

»2 Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 21 Jul 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 

" Ltr, Col McCunniff to WPD, 15 Oct 41, WPD 4113-33. This letter is the formal report 
on the work of the Joint Planning Group. Its activities were also reported in General Miller's 
Report of Status of Hemisphere Defense Projects, 8 Aug 41, WPD 4516-26, and his Memo for 
W PD, 14 Oct 41 , sub: Military Cooperation of Brazil in Hemisphere Defense, WPD 4224-186. 
See l Chapter XII, [ below, for an account of the joint United States-Brazilian Army board established 
in December 1941. 



States.*'' While the Brazilian Army was perfectly willing to share its infor- 
mation freely with the United States Army and to let American officers in 
civilian clothes reconnoiter Brazilian territory, the Brazilians were still op- 
posed to any overt United States Army activity.'' 

Although this attempt at joint planning was a failure as a device for get- 
ting United States Army forces into Brazil in 1941, it provided much valu- 
able information for the correction and elaboration of earlier United States 
Army war plans, it prepared the way for the military improvement of Bra- 
zilian air bases undertaken in the spring of 1942, and it induced the Brazil- 
ian Army to take a definite stand in respect to the movement of American 
forces to Brazil. By October 1941 it was clear that the Brazilians were pre- 
pared to accept virtually unlimited naval assistance from the United States, 
and to accept air assistance if a serious external threat loomed before the end 
of 1942. They were not prepared to allow United States Army ground com- 
bat forces in Brazil, either in 1941 or later. Instead, they insisted that if 
United States equipment were forthcoming they could supply adequate 
ground defense forces, and in fact they were already rapidly increasing their 
own ground garrisons in northem and eastern Brazil. In view of the inability 
of the United States to equip these forces, the American members of the 
Joint Planning Group still doubted that Brazilian ground troops would be 
able to protect the vital air installations in Northeast Brazil against an at- 
tack by a major power. They noted that the current staff agreement did not 
provide any assurance that Brazil would ask for American assistance in time, 
should a real emergency arise, and they adopted the Army's consistent view 
that the situation called for the presence of United States ground and air 
forces in advance of any such emergency. Therefore, they recommended the 
negotiation of a new Brazilian-American military agreement that would pro- 
vide for the lease of land and sea bases at nine locations in Northeast Brazil. 
They also recommended the further improvement of eight airfields for mili- 
tary use and the preparation of detailed plans for the occupation of these 
bases by United States forces.'^ 

The War Plans Division in Washington believed that there was no pos- 
sibility of obtaining United States Government approval— let alone Brazil- 
ian assent— to the first recommendation made by the joint planners, but the 
Army could get to work on the other two. The Army Air Forces proceeded 

On the medical survey, see WPD 4378; on aerial mapping, see the reports of General Miller 
cited in [footnote 8^ above. 

Par A-2, Gen Miller's Report of Status of Hemisphere Defense Projects, 8 Aug 41, WPD 

Ltr, Col McCunniff to WPD, 15 Oct 41, WPD 4113-33. 



to draft new plans for airfield improvement. General Headquarters was given 
the task of drawing up a detailed operations plan, with the assistance of 
Colonel McCunnifF and the other joint planners, who were temporarily as- 
signed to General Headquarters to work on it."^ 

The original Northeast Brazil theater plan shown to Colonel McCunnifF 
and his colleagues in early July 1941 had been drafted in 1940. Revised op- 
erations plans for Brazil, begun in the War Plans Division in July 1941 and 
in General Headquarters a month later, were based not on Rainbow 4 but 
on Rainbow 5, the basic apprehension being the seeming imminence of a 
German move toward the South Atlantic rather than the collapse of Great 
Britain. Between 10 October and early December, General Headquarters vir- 
tually completed a new and much more detailed operations plan for North- 
east Brazil, also based on Rainbow 5. It called for a total deployment to 
Brazil of more than 64,000 ground and air troops, including two divisions. 
These forces were to be concentrated, as recommended by the joint planners, 
in the vicinities of Natal, Recife, and Belem. This was the plan the Army 
wanted to follow in part after the outbreak of war."*" 

Munitions for Brazil in 1941 

Colonel McCunnifPs report on the joint planning effort in Brazil noted, 
"it was apparent from the first meeting that the major objective in so far as 
the Brazilian group was concerned was to secure arms and equipment from 
the United States." The United States Army sincerely wanted to supply 
arms to Brazil, but, as earlier, it could not see how an adequate supply of 
arms could be arranged in time to enable the Brazilians to assume the 
ground and air defense of Northeast Brazil. The basic arms supply program 
for Latin America that the War and Navy Departments had approved in 
March 1941 allocated munitions valued at $100,000,000 to Brazil, four fift:hs 
of which was to be used for ground and air equipment, but most of these 
munitions were not to be delivered until after 1 July 1942. 9° In April 1941 
the Army planned the eventual delivery of 230 military aircraft to Brazil, and 
in the same month President Roosevelt extended the coverage of the Lend- 

" Memo, Col Ridgway. WPD, 18 Oct 41, and atchd comments of Gen Gerow and Cols Gerow 
and Handy, WPD 4113-33; entry of 10 Oa 41, GHQ 314.81 Diary. 

»" Entries of 18 Aug, 11 Sep, and 10 Oct 41, GHQ 314.81 Diary; Memo, DCofS GHQ for 
WPD, 25 Oct 41; Memo, WPD for CofS GHQ, 31 Oct 41. Last two in WPD 4224-204. Annex, 
Sec. VIII, Nov 41, to WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, WPD 4510 Theater Studies; Memo, DCofS 
GHQ for WPD, 3 Dec 41; Mem o and attachments, WPD for CofS GHQ, 17 Dec 41. Last two 
in WPD 4516-38. See Ich. jCll.l below. 

«" Ltr, Col McCunniff to WPD, 15 Oct 41, WPD 4113-33. 
Report of JAB, 3 Mar 41, JAB 5-2 (OPD Misc 36). 



Lease Act to Brazil as well as to the other Latin American republics." Pend- 
ing conclusion of a lend-lease agreement with Brazil and at the Army's in- 
sistence, the United States had, as already noted, made a $12,000,000 credit 
available to the Brazilians for military purchases. Brazil never used this 
credit, the Brazilian Minister of Finance preferring to wait until his country 
could take advantage of the more liberal terms embodied in the lend-lease 
agreement signed on 1 October 1941. The agreement, following exactly the 
terms of the March 1941 program, promised the delivery of $16,000,000 
worth of Army and Navy material to Brazil by September 1942, and the re- 
mainder ($84,000,000 worth) sometime thereafter. By the end of Novem- 
ber, Brazil had submitted lend-lease requisitions calling for an expenditure of 
$35,000,000 for ground equipment, or nearly one half of the $74,000,000 then 
allocated for the Brazilian Army.'-" In contrast with this extensive planning, 
the actual deliveries of modern military equipment to Brazil before Pearl 
Harbor consisted of only a few searchlights and a token shipment of auto- 
motive equipment and light tanks. 

When the United States Army suddenly decided in May 1941 that, if 
possible, it ought to put some American troops into Brazil at once, it had 
also arranged to divert from its own forces to chose of Brazil a million-dollar 
token shipment of l67 trucks, 10 scout cars, and 10 light tanks, together 
with a small quantity of ammunition for the guns on the scout cars and 
tanks. Brazil wanted this material for its newly established Armored Force- 
only it wanted 90 light and medium tanks immediately instead of the 10 
light tanks offered. The Army planned to get the proffered material aboard 
ship by the end of July so that some of it could appear in the Brazilian In- 
dependence Day parade on 7 September. After some delay, Brazil accepted 
most of the material and paid for it in cash. It reached Brazil in time to ap- 
pear in the parade, and, according to General Miller, its appearance "pro- 
duced a very favorable reaction in Brazilian Army circles." This token ship- 
ment nevertheless represented only a small fraction of what the Brazilian 
Army currently believed it needed, and, as Foreign Minister Aranha pointed 
out to Ambassador Caffery, it was not suitable equipment for defending the 
Natal region.'' 

»> Study by Col Ridgway, 11 Apr 41, OPD Misc 47. See lCh. IXl above. 

Memo, Gen Miller for WPD, 14 Oct 41, WPD 4224-186; Memo, Gen Miller for G-2, 
30 Oct 41, WPD 4516-35. 

"■■> Memo, Col Brett for Col Ridgway, 27 Nov 41, WPD 4224-200. 
Ltr, Gen Miller to Col Barber, WPD, 12 Sep 41, WPD 4224-176. 

Information about the token shipment has been drawn from various papers in WPD 4224- 
153, WPD 4244-35, WPD 4516-18, OCS 6526-36, and SLC Min, Vol. II. 



Efforts of the United States during 1941 to provide some modern military 
aircraft for Brazil did more harm than good. Though the Brazilians had 
about two hundred military planes, they had very few tactical aircraft, and 
no modern ones. In the midst of the May crisis. General Marshall announced 
in a Standing Liaison Committee meeting that the Army was then trying to 
obtain the immediate release of twenty modern light bombers (A-20's) to 
Brazil from British allocations— British representatives in Washington hav- 
ing intimated that this could be done. General Arnold thereupon personally 
informed General Miller at Rio that twelve of the planes could probably be 
released to the Brazilians immediately, if they wanted them. The Brazilians 
wanted them very much, even though they had no pilots qualified to fly 
A-20's. When British authorities in London refused to release the planes to 
Brazil, the reaction in Rio de Janeiro was most unfavorable. General Miller 
urged that some substitute offer be made at once. As substitutes, he sug- 
gested transport planes for the air-mail service operated by the Brazilian Air 
Force and assignment to the United States Air Mission of a few B-18's— 
medium bombers of a slow and obsolete type— that would permit a transi- 
tional type of training for Brazilian pilots to prepare them to operate more 
modern aircraft.'*^ 

Between August 1941 and January 1942 the United States Army worked 
out a solution to the problem of providing military planes to Brazil. No 
modern combat aircraft were to be made available to Brazil before the au- 
tumn of 1S>42, but it did not appear that Brazil could train pilots to fly them 
before then in any event. What the Brazilian Air Force needed was modem 
training equipment— primary trainers first and basic trainers thereafter— to 
qualify its pilots for the operation of high-speed aircraft. In the fall of 1941 
the Brazilians planned a pilot training program to begin in February 1942. 
To provide airplanes for the program, the United States agreed to release 
sixty primary trainers to Brazil, fifteen of them in November 1941 and the 
balance in monthly increments, and fifty basic trainers at a rate of ten a 
month from February through June 1942. The United States also planned to 
furnish the Brazilian Air Force with some transport planes during 1942. As 
an interim measure, General Miller proposed and the Army Air Forces in 
October 194l approved the assignment to the United States Air Mission be- 
fore the end of 1941 of a few B-18's and P-36's for use in instructing Bra- 
zilian Air Force pilots.'^ Despite all this planning, the only United States 

Notes on SLC mtgs, 21 May, 10 Jun, and 1 Jul 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Items 26, 29, and 30; 
various papers, dated 26 May-2 Jul 41, WPD 4406-9. 

" Various papers, dated 18 Aug 41-24 Jan 42, WPD 4406-9, WPD 4406-18, WPD 4406- 
20, WPD 4406-26, WPD 4406-30, WPD 4406-33, WPD 4406-37, SLC Min, Vol. II; Memo, 
AAF for WPD, 4 Feb 42, JAB 6-7 (OPD Misc 37). 



military aircraft made available for Brazilian use before Pearl Harbor were 
the three primary trainers previously assigned to the Air Mission for instruc- 
tional purposes. 

If the United States had been able to supply the Brazilian Army and Air 
Force with a substantial amount of modern combat material in 1941, the 
Brazilians might have been willing to receive small United States Army 
forces in Northeast Brazil to help guard its vital airfields and to service the 
military air traffic that in June 1941 began to flow from the United States to 
Africa via Brazil. This the United States could not do, as pointed out by 
General Marshall on 24 October in a letter to Mr. Welles: 

Wc do not have and for a considerable period of time we will not have, munitions to 
supply to Brazil of the type Brazil desires. The latter types are being and will continue to 
be supplied in proportion as our acute shortages are relieved, and on a priority higher 
than that accorded to any other Government not actually engaged in fighting the Axis. 
The requirements of our own forces, of the British, and of other Governments actually 
engaged in resisting aggression, take precedence over the needs of Brazil. These decisions 
have been reached by superior agencies of our Government in the light of our own na- 
tional interests and the world situation. The War Department contemplates no change.'^ 

Under these circumstances, about all the United States Army had been able 
to do before Pearl Harbor was to prepare the way for supplying arms to 
Brazil in quantity by late 1S)42 and 1943. 

The Army's Quest for Action 

Brazil's failure to obtain any appreciable quantity of American munitions 
in 1941, and Brazilian opposition to the entry of United States Army forces 
into the Natal area, should not obscure the many ways in which the United 
States and Brazil did co-operate in hemisphere defense measures before Pearl 
Harbor. First and foremost, Brazil had approved the construction of eight 
military air bases, financed by the United States Government, in the North- 
east.'' Then, beginning in June 1S>41, it permitted transport planes to be fer- 
ried via Brazil to the British forces in Africa and the Middle East. Five 
months later, the Army Air Forces' Ferrying Command inaugurated its own 
South Atlantic air transport service by way of Brazil to Cairo. In the 
autumn of 1941, as Ambassador Caffery subsequently observed, Brazil freely 
permitted United States noncombat aircraft to visit Brazil, to fly over Bra- 
zilian territory, and to use Brazilian airfields while in transit to Africa and 

Ltr CofS t o Under Secy State, 24 Oct 41, WPD 4516-20. 
"See lCh. XJ above. 

Craven and Gate, AAF I, pp. 319-27. For further details, see manuscript history by Capt. 
Dulany Terrett and others. The Official History of the South Atlantic Division, Air Transport 
Command (hereafter cited as Hist of So Atlantic Div, ATC), Ch. II, pp. 92ff. 



elsewhere.^"' Beginning in June 1941 also, surface vessels of the Navy's South 
Atlantic patrol force began to use the ports of Recife and Bahia as operat- 
ing bases.'°^ During the summer and autumn of 1941, as noted above, Bra2il 
reversed its traditional military policy of keeping almost all of its armed 
forces in the south and began to build up garrisons in the Northeast to pro- 
tect the vital air and naval installations taking shape there. Positive actions 
of a nonmilitary character included the suppression of German, Italian, and 
Japanese language newspapers and control of exports to insure that stra- 
tegic materials went to the United States instead of to the Axis Powers. The 
Army's Brazilian experts appreciated the extent of Brazil's co-operation and 
recognized that Brazilian military as well as civilian sentiment was over- 
whelmingly pro-United States and anti-Axis, but they also believed that 
Northeast Brazil needed much stronger military protection than it had in the 
autumn of 1941.^°^ 

The Army planners in Washington wished that the military negotiations 
with Brazil could be put on a higher plane than a mere bargaining for con- 
cessions. They wanted the United States Government "to demonstrate that 
the measures of cooperation asked of Brazil [were] not to be regarded as 
concessions made to us but rather as contributions to hemisphere defense, 
and ... to convince the Brazilian people of the existence of an actual 
menace to their future independence and of the necessity of their making 
frequent contributions to hemisphere defense." The difficulty was that the 
Brazilians simply did not appreciate the design of the hemisphere defense 
measures that the United States wanted to execute, nor the reasons for it. 
The Brazilian members of the Joint Planning Group frankly told the United 
States members that the defense of Northeast Brazil appeared to be much 
more vital to the United States than to Brazil."" As Mr. Caffery pointed out 
later, many Americans in the fall of 1941 "were blind to the imminent dan- 
ger with which the United States was so acutely threatened," and "failed to 
appreciate that the President's tenet that material assistance to the peoples 
and nations fighting the Axis constituted, in fact, a defense of the United 
States." This being the case, he continued, "it should readily be appreciated 

Memo, OPD for CofS, 27 Aug 42, commenting on undated report handed by Mr. CafiFery 
to General Marshall, OPD 336 Brazil. 

1°^ Memo, Adm Stark for Gen Marshall, 2 Sep 41, WPD 4516-20; Morison, Batt/e of the 
Atlantic, pp. '?>11-18. 

Memo, Gen Miller for WPD, 14 Oct 41, WPD 4224-186; Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen 
Marshall (through Gen Gerow), 9 Oct 41, WPD 4224-188. 

Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen Marshall (through Gen Gerow), 9 Oct 41, WPD 4224-188. 
Ltr, Col McCunnifFto WPD, 15 Oct 41, WPD 4113-33. 



that the Brazilians, for their part, had precious little interest in implementing 

aid to Britain, much less succor to Red Russia." ""^ 

In order to persuade President Roosevelt to take a more forthright line 

of action toward Brazil, the Army planners in late August 1941 drafted a 

strong letter to be sent by Secretary of War Stimson to Secretary of State 

Hull. After reciting in some detail the Army's fruitless efforts to get its 

forces into Brazil, this letter concluded: 

The time has arrived when this Government in the most formal manner should bring 
to the attention of the Brazilian Government the high importance to Brazil, to the United 
States, and to this entire Hemisphere, of preventing any Axis infiltration into or control 
of the northeast portion of Brazil and to insist that Biazil comply with the request of this 
Government for the entry of our security forces into her strategic northeast for the period 
of the emergency, a request that we deem imperative to make in the interests of our joint 

I judge this matter to be among the most important questions of foreign policy now 
confronting this nation, and as such, one which you, Secretary Knox and I should present 
jointly to the President as soon as his convenience will permit.'"^ 

Mr. Stimson signed this letter on 30 August and directed that a copy be 
sent to Secretary of the Navy Knox so that the War and Navy Departments 
would be in agreement before the matter was presented to Mr. Hull and 
then to the President. On 31 August General Gerow, the Chief of the War 
Plans Division, flew to Hyde Park where he discussed the Brazilian situation 
^vlth President Roosevelt. Three days later Mr. Knox assured the War De- 
partment that he would give it "every possible assistance in this matter." '™ 
The Chief of Naval Operations reacted very differently to the War De- 
partment's proposal when General Marshall consulted him about it. Admiral 
Stark observed that the proposed action might hamper the Navy's current 
effort to expand its Brazilian operations to include the operation of patrol 
planes based on Brazilian ports. As an alternative. Admiral Stark proposed 
that, as soon as Brazil agreed to the operation of Navy patrol planes, the 
Navy would ask for the protection of these same ports by Army pursuit 
planes, and after that for the privilege of putting Marine Corps detachments 
in to protect these planes, a proposal very similar to the one discussed by the 
Army and Navy planners during July. Admiral Stark also suggested that the 

'»8 Incl to Memo, OPD for CofS, 27 Aug 42, OPD 336 Brazil. 

Draft of Ltr, SW to Secy State, 30 Aug 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. Actually, as noted 
above, the President had not requested Brazil to permit the entry of Army security forces, though 
it was the War Department's understanding at this time that such a request had been made in 
early July. 

108 Notes on draft ltr cited in footnote 107, above; Gerow Diary, entry of 31 Aug 41; Memo, 
Aide to the SW for CofS, 3 Sep 41, WPD 4516-20. 



Army use the good offices of Rear Adm. A. T. Beauregard, naval attache at 
Rio, to advance its plans.'"'^ Over the objections of the Army planners, Gen- 
eral Marshall and Secretary Stimson decided that they ought not to go ahead 
with the Army's Brazil proposal without Admiral Stark's concurrence. The 
Chief of Staff sent Admiral Stark a copy of the proposed Secretary of War- 
Secretary of State letter for transmission to Admiral Beauregard and sus- 
pended action on the original. "° 

Not only was the Navy somewhat less than enthusiastic over the Army's 
security force plan for Brazil but also it apparently feared that the execution 
of the Army's plan might interfere with the Navy's own plans for South 
Atlantic operations. There certainly was little co-ordination between the Army 
and the Navy in connection with planning for Brazil in the fall of 1941. 
When General Headquarters set to work in October on a detailed opera- 
tions plan for Brazil, it had no information on current Navy plans for the 
area, nor did the naval liaison officer assigned to General Headquarters know 
anything about them. In the outline of information presently obtained by 
General Headquarters, the Navy indicated that in the event of a German 
move into Africa a major United States naval base would have to be estab- 
lished at Natal or at Maceio.'" At the end of October the Navy Depart- 
ment insisted that Natal must become "a Naval Base and Naval Com- 
mand." Admiral Beauregard in his discussions with Ambassador CafFery 
seems to have accepted the latter's opinion "that if any necessity exists for 
our Army moving in anywhere in Brazil or any garrisons established, it can 
only be done by diplomatic means and not between the Armies as the 
Brazilian Army is dead set against our coming in." At the end of Novem- 
ber Admiral Stark again asked "that the Army postpone further requests to 
base troops or planes in Brazil until the Navy is fully established there.""* 

In the meantime, the Army planners viewed the Brazilian situation with 
growing concern. The War Plans Division estimate of 19 September, com- 
piled in connection with the Victory Program planning, of what the Army 
could do with its existing means to meet the Axis challenge, put the Brazil 
operation first and stated that if Germany moved into West Africa and its 

'»» Memo, Adm Stark for Gen Marshall, 2 Sep 41, WPD 4516-20. 

Memo, Col Barber for Gen Gerow, WPD, 3 Sep 4l, WPD 4516-20; L:r, CofS to CNO, 
8 Sep 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 

"' Entry of 16 Oct 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 1; Memo, Cap: C. M. Yates, USN, for 
DCofS GHQ, 21 Oct 41, GHQ 381 Rainbow 5. 

Memo, Capt Spears, USN, for Col Ridgway, WPD, 31 Oct 41, WPD 4516-28. 
"■^ L:r, Adm Beauregard to Adm Stark, 12 Nov 41, WPD 4224-186. 
Min, JB meg, 26 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 15, p. 1642. 



adjacent islands, United States Army forces would have to be sent to the 
Natal area."' The October War Department Strategic Estimate accorded the 
same top priority to a Brazilian operation in its listing of the eleven most 
"profitable lines of action" then open to the United States.'"^ The Victory 
Program estimate itself called for a task force of 86,646 United States ground 
troops for Brazil."^ Colonel Ridgway summarized the Army planners' point 
of view when he stated: 

Brazil is the most vital point in our outpost system for our future security against the 
long range plans for aggression of the Axis. By acceding to the Brazilian Government 
argument that there is no immediate threat to Brazil, we overlook the rapidity with which 
our military situation can deteriorate. The sudden collapse of Russia, the eviction of Britain 
from the Middle East, the eruption of Axis forces down the northwest African coast and 
the possible concurrent reversal of Latin American opinion from pro- Ally to pro-Axis 
(hastened by the impact of German subversive efforts on the South American continent) 
might prove that we had cut our time factor too fine. The objective of the War and Navy 
Departments therefore continues to be the placing of adequate United States security forces 
in northeast Brazil at the earliest practicable date. The obstacle of Brazilian sensitiveness to 
this relincjuishment of sovereignty is well understood, but efforts must be intensified to 
surmount it."* 

On 10 November General Gerow advised the Chief of Staff: "I believe 
the need for placing our armed security forces in Brazil is greater now than 
it was last summer." He and General Arnold of the Air Forces therefore 
recommended the dispatch of the long-suspended letter to Mr. Hull."' Gen- 
eral Marshall had already sent a modified version of the letter to Mr. 
Welles,'^" and he still prefered to let the Navy continue to take the lead in 
Brazil. When the Chief of Staff learned on 12 November that Brazil had 
agreed to open its ports to Navy patrol planes, he told Mr. Welles that it 
was very important to get a few Army planes, guarded by Marine detach- 
ments, to Natal and Maceio as quickly as possible. Once they were there, their 
number could be gradually increased. Mr. Welles thought that United States 
armed guards "could be gotten in there in some guise, possibly as technical 
assistants"— a scheme that was to be put into practice a few weeks later after 
the United States went to war.'^' 

Tab D to Memo, WPD for CofS, 19 Sep 41, WPD 4494-12. 

WD Strategic Estimate, Oct 41, Sec. Ill, WPD 4494-21. 

Tab A to Estimate Army Requirements, Sep 41, WPD 4494-21. 
"» Memo, Col Ridgway for Gen Marshall (through Gen Gerow), 9 Oct 41, WPD 4224-188, 
summarizing Colonel Ridgway's remarks at a meeting with Col Donovan and members of his 
organization on 8 October. As suggested in the text above, it is by no means dear that this was 
the Navy Department's "objective" at this time. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 10 Nov 41, WPD 4516-20. The memorandum was drafted by 
Colonel Bundy, Chief of WPD's Plans Group. 

"0 Ltr, CofS to Under Secy State, 24 Oct 41, WPD 4516-20. 

Notes on SLC mtg, 12 Nov 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 36. See Ch. XII 




General Marshall had good reason to act on the Brazil problem with 
more caution than his planners counseled during the fall of 1941. The Army's 
own representative at Rio, General Miller, believed that the Navy approach 
was the best/" He urged that "the occupation of Brazilian territory by United 
States armed forces ... be delayed as much as the military situation will 
permit and until the people of Brazil have been awakened to the danger con- 
fronting them." General Marshall must also have been impressed by Presi- 
dent Roosevelt's reluctance to give any firm backing to the Army's security 
force plan for Brazil. Early in November the Chief of Staff learned both from 
the War Plans Division in Washington and from General Miller in Rio that 
the President had never formally requested that Brazil allow United States 
Army forces to enter its territory. Ambassador Caffery pointedly told General 
Miller that "the President is not supporting the Army's stand in this 

Both the President and the Chief of Staff knew that President Vargas and 
Foreign Minister Aranha had been trying since August to mold Brazilian 
opinion in favor of more open collaboration with the United States. The 
Brazilian Government in working toward this end had to take into account 
the determined opposition of Brazilian Army leaders to the entry of American 
ground forces. It also had to recognize the ease with which pro-Nazi ele- 
ments could fan popular sentiment against any American move that could be 
interpreted as imperialistic or an infringement on Brazilian sovereignty. 
Therefore, the Brazilian President and his Foreign Minister had to move 
slowly, but by early November they were openly announcing their intention 
of supporting the United States should it be drawn into the war. Ambassador 
Caffery was told that Brazil would immediately ask for United States Army 
assistance if German forces moved into Portugal or northwestern Africa.'^' 

The outlook for closer Brazilian- American co-operation and for the achieve- 
ment of the United States Army's objectives in Brazil momentarily worsened 
during November, partly because pro-Nazi elements became bolder as the 
German armies approached Moscow, partly because General Miller, through 
no fault of his own, had become persona non grata to the Brazilian Chief of 

Remarks of Gen Miller at SLC mtg, 1 Oct 41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 34. General Miller 
was then in Washington. 

>" Memo, Gen Miller for WPD, 14 Oct 41, WPD 4224-186. 

■2' Memo, Gen Miller for G-2, 30 Oct 41, "WPD 4516; Incl 1 to Memo, WPD for CofS, 10 
Nov 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2. 

Report of Gen Miller, 8 Aug 41, WPD 4516-26; Ltr, Under Secy Welles to Gen Marshall, 
5 Nov 41, AG 380 (5-18-40), Sec. 2; U.S. Navy intelligence summaries, 1 and 15 Nov 41, 
Pearl Harbor Attack, Ft. 15, pp. 1803, 1823; remarks of Under Secy Welles at SLC mtg, 12 Nov 
41, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 36. 



Staff. President Vargas was sufficiently worried to request thiaC the United 
States Navy postpone its plan for operating patrol planes from Brazilian 
ports. '^"^ On 27 November Brazil finally granted a clearance for operation of 
the planes, and on 11 December the first naval patrol squadron reached 
Brazilian ports.'-' The operation chat General Marshall in Washington and 
General Miller in Rio had looked upon as the opening wedge for gaining 
Brazilian consent to the entry of United States Army air and ground forces 
thus began after the United States was fully in the war, and under circum- 
stances that gave the Brazilian bulge a new and unforeseen significance. 

'-•> Telg, Ambassador Caffery to Dept of State, 21 Nov 41, WPD 4516-32; Dept of State 
Memo, Mr. Duggan for Mr. Welles, 25 Nov 41, WPD 4406-30. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 28 Nov 41, WPD 4516-19; Morison, Bat//e of the Atlantic, p. }78. 


The Establishment of United States 
Army Forces in Brazil 

When the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States 
into war on 7 December 1941, the introduction of security forces into 
Northeast Brazil seemed to the United States Army more important than 
ever. The object of its grave concern was not the position of the Brazilian 
Government toward the war, but the new air bases in northern Brazil, which 
were virtually undefended. 

President Vargas at once pledged that Brazil would associate itself with 
the war effort of the United States, though he cautioned that this did not 
mean that Brazil had any immediate intention of declaring war on or even 
of breaking diplomatic relations with Japan.' After the exchange of war 
declarations between the United States, Germany, and Italy on 11 December, 
Brazil began to curb German, Italian, and Japanese activities by such measures 
as freezing credits, closing Axis news agencies, and suspending the German- 
controlled CONDOR airline. These measures did little to protect Northeast 
Brazil. The Brazilian ground and air forces then stationed in the Northeast 
were not prepared in terms of either equipment or training to deal with an 
attack by modern combat forces, and the United States Navy patrol forces 
based there were neither adequate nor suitable for defense of land air bases. 
To the United States Army, it appeared that only American ground and air 
forces could be depended upon to protect the string of vital airfields extend- 
ing from the Guianas to Natal against sabotage or external attack. 

The Army had planned the airfields in 1940 solely as a hemisphere defense 
measure. Then, as construction progressed and the fields became partially 
usable in the latter half of 1941, they began to serve a new purpose — they 
became essential links in the South Atlantic airway, over which airplanes 
were being ferried and high-priority materials transported to British forces 
in Africa and the Middle East. When Japan's attack cut the transpacific air 
routes and the North Atlantic route virtually closed down for the winter, 

' Memo, Maj William T. Sexton, OCS, for Gen Marshall, 8 Dec 41, OCS Conf Binder 29, re- 
laying telephone message from Department of State. 



the South Atlantic route suddenly became the sole remaining airway from 
the United States to the fighting forces in the Old World. Immediately after 
Pearl Harbor the United States Army began to plan the flight of heavy 
bombers by way of the South Atlantic to the beleaguered American forces in 
the Philippines.^ When the United States and Great Britain got together at 
the Arcadia Conference to plan their conduct of the war, guarding the South 
Atlantic airway was one of their most pressing concerns, the Anglo-American 
agreement of 31 December on grand strategy designating it as the most im- 
portant of the air routes between the hemispheres.' Beyond this attention 
focused on the airway as a critically important ferrying and supply route, the 
United States Army for several months after Pearl Harbor continued to view 
the defenselessness of airfields in Northeast Brazil as a menace to hemisphere 
security that could easily be corrected by stationing United States security 
forces there with Brazil's consent. Without such protection it looked to the 
Army as if the Brazilian airfields invited a German air advance across the 
South Atlantic from Africa, aimed toward the Caribbean Sea and the Panama 

Emergency Airfield and Airway Security Measures 

To meet the threat to Northeast Brazil and its vital airway the Army's 
War Plans Division proposed to send a reinforced infantry regiment to the 
Natal area at once, using for this purpose the troopships then earmarked 
for an Azores expedition. The first regiment was to be followed by at least 
the rest of a reinforced division as soon as additional sea transportation 
could be found. Army defensive air units were likewise to be sent to Brazil 
as soon as possible. While the proposal was being drafted and circulated for 
concurrences, General Marshall and Admiral Stark agreed that three com- 
panies of marines should be flown to Brazil, to guard the airfields at Belem, 
Natal, and Recife, as soon as the Brazilian Government gave its consent. 
Under Secretary Welles promised that a request along these lines would be 
presented to President Vargas personally. When the Navy's chief planner 
refused to concur in the plan for sending Army forces to Brazil, General 
Gerow, with General Marshall's approval, presented the matter to Secretary 
of War Stimson for decision and action. Mr. Stimson during telephone con- 
versations with Mr. Hull and Mr. Welles agreed to suspend the Army's plan 
pending Brazil's approval of the Marine operation, but only when Mr. Welles 

2 Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 10 Dec 41, WPD 4224-204.' 
" Par. 11, ABC-4/CS1, 31 Dec 41. 



expressed confidence that the Brazilian Government could be prevailed upon 
to allow Army forces to be stationed in Brazil shortly after the arrival of the 

Brazil quickly agreed to receive three fifty-man Marine companies. Gen- 
eral Marshall then directed his war planners on his as well as Admiral Stark's 
behalf to go ahead and arrange the details of the operation with the Navy, 
the Marine Corps, and the Department of State. What Brazil had consented 
to was to admit marines under the guise of technicians for servicing aircraft. 
The real purpose in sending them was to get fully equipped "fighting men" 
to Brazil to guard the airfields.' The instructions to the company com- 
manders—actually drafted by Colonel Ridgway of the War Plans Divi- 
sion—emphasized this primary mission, but they also contained an eminently 
proper admonition: 

It cannot be too forcefully impressed upon you and your men that you are there in 
the sovereign territory of Brazil under very unusual circumstances by authority of the 
President of Brazil, as an evidence of Brazilian determination to cooperate fully with us 
in Hemisphere Defense, and that you and your men are there as friendly associates of 
Brazilian military and naval forces, as well as civil authorities and the people themselves.' 

Acting under these instructions, the 17th, 18th, and 19th Marine Provisional 
Companies departed from Quantico by air in the early morning hours of 
13 December.^ 

The marines reached Trinidad two days later. There, they were briefly 
halted while the Army and the Department of State straightened out a new 
tangle. The Brazilian Government now said that it did not want the marines 
to land in uniform or bearing arms. President Vargas finally agreed that the 
marines could land in uniform, but he asked that their arms be left crated 
or at least hidden out of sight. The Marine companies then proceeded to 
their destinations, the Belem company arriving on 19 December and the 
Natal and Recife companies on the following day. When the Natal and 
Recife contingents arrived, they discovered that the local Brazilian authorities 
had not been fully informed about the terms that the Brazilian President 
had approved, and both detachments were put on Navy ships until suitable 

^ Various papers, and notations thereon, dated 10 and 11 Dec 4l, WPD 4224-204; Stimson 
Diary, entry of 11 Dec 4l. 

= Various memos and notations, dated 13 and 14 Dec 41, WPD 4224-204. 

<■ Memo, Commandant, Marine Corps, for CO 17th Provisional Marine Co, 15 Dec 4l, WPD 
4224-204. On authorship of these instrurtions, see Pers Ltr, Maj Gen Thomas Holcomb, Com- 
mandant, Marine Corps, to Gen Marshall, 15 Dec 41, and notations thereon, WPD 4224-204. 

' Pers Ltr, Gen Marshall to Under Secy Welles, 16 Dec 41, WPD 4224-204; Memo, WPD 
for Gen Miles, G-2, 17 Dec 4l, WPD 4380-8; see also papers in GHQ 045.3 NEB. 



arrangements could be made for their disposition ashore. The reception of 
the marines did httle to reassure the Army in its concern for the security of 
the airfields." 

After the outbreak of war, the Army hurriedly instituted several other 
measures to improve the safety of the airway through Brazil. On 7 Decem- 
ber it asked Pan American Airways to put the radio stations of its Brazilian 
subsidiary on a 24-hour schedule. The Army Air Forces sent its own control 
officers to Brazilian airports, 1st Lt. Marshall V. Jamison arriving at the 
key Natal base for duty on 19 December. During December the Brazilian 
Government approved the movement of three Army transport planes a week 
in each direction without special diplomatic arrangement, and this consent 
covered all Army air movements through Brazil until the following March.' 

The Army was gravely concerned about the continued operation of the 
radio transmitters owned by the CONDOR and LATI airlines, and about 
other radio stations that might broadcast unauthorized information concern- 
ing military air traffic through Brazil. At the Army's urging, the Department 
of State persuaded the Brazilians to issue an order on 13 December prohibit- 
ing any coded messages about aircraft movements from being sent. In practice 
Pan American broadcasts concerning United States military aircraft were 
excepted from the operation of this regulation. Since the Army believed that 
only the closing of the CONDOR and LATI stations would satisfy its in- 
terest. General Arnold on 19 December offered to send two B-18's and ten 
P-36's from the Caribbean Defense Command to Northeast Brazil for the 
instruction of Brazilian Air Force pilots as soon as the offending radio sta- 
tions were closed down. With considerable difficulty the Army finally secured 
the discontinuance of broadcasts that it considered dangerous to Brazilian 
air operations, and the B-18's and P-36's were eventually sent to Brazil in 
March 1942, though on terms other than those proposed in December by 
the Chief of the Army Air Forces.'" 

» Memo, CofS for ACofS WPD (Attn; Col Ridgway), 17 Dec 41; Memo, Col Ridgway for 
Gen Marshall, 17 Dec 41. Both in WPD 4224-204. Stimson Diary, entry of 17 Dec 41; entries of 
17, 20, and 22 Dec 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2; Marine Corps Memo for Record, 29 Dec 
41, WPD 4224-204; Notes on SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 42. 

" On PAA radio stations, see Memo, Col Bissell for Gen Gerow, WPD, 7 Dec 41, WPD 4224- 
202; and various papers, dated Feb 42, WPD 578-136. On AAF control officers, see Craven and 
Cate, AAF I, pp. 329-30; and Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. Ill, p. 121. On flight ar- 
rangements, see Ltr, SW to Secy State, 29 Nov 41, OCS 21238-16; Note for Record, Col Ridg- 
way, WPD, 28 Dec 41, WPD 4113-77; and Dept of State Memo for Record, 8 Jan 42, OPD 
Misc 10. 

'"Various papers, dated 8 Dec 41-2 Jan 42, WPD 578-127; Memo, Gen Arnold, DCofS, for 
Under Secy State, 19 Dec 41, and other papers, WPD 4224-207. 



Brazil Theater Planning 

Before and during the Arcadia Conference, Army opinion was unanimous 
that the principal Brazilian air bases must be defended by American combat 
forces just as soon as possible. In mid- December this project had a priority 
immediately below that of reinforcing the continental United States, Hawaii, 
and the Panama Canal Zone." The Army Air Forces was about to launch 
its Project X— the planned movement of eighty heavy bombers to the Far 
East, initiated by orders of 19 December.'- With this movement in prospect, 
Secretary Stimson termed the protection of the airway "a very emergent 
problem," and the War Plans Division held that the "occupation of Natal 
by American forces in considerable strength affords the only reasonable as- 
surance that we can maintain communications in the South Atlantic and a 
base from which long-range airplanes can fly to Africa and thence to the 
Middle East and the Far East." General Marshall believed that at the very 
minimum the Army ought to place a reinforced and specially equipped 
1,200-man infantry battalion, supported by seven or eight combat airplanes, 
at each of the three key air bases in Brazil.''' 

The United States Army thought it might have to do much more if 
German forces moved into Spain and Africa, and this appeared a likely de- 
velopment as the Arcadia meetings began. In their joint estimate of 20 
December General Marshall and Admiral Stark expressed the belief that 
"Germany's failure to achieve full success in Russia may strongly influence 
her to invade Spain, Portugal and French North and West Africa for the 
purpose of restoring the balance." " Two days later, at the initial meeting 
between the President, the Prime Minister, and their political advisers, "there 
was general agreement that if Hitler was held in Russia he must try some- 
thing else, and that the most probable line was Spain and Portugal en route 
to North Africa." The Army therefore had good reason to believe that it 
might be called upon to send an expeditionary force to Northeast Brazil in 
the very near future. 

" Recommendations for immediate action in Memos, WPD for CofS, 12 and 18 Dec 41, 
WPD 4622-37; and Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 15 Dec 41, GHQ 381, Sec. 2. 
Craven and Cate, AAF I, p. 332. 

" Stimson Diary, entry of 17 Dec 41; WPD study, 21 Dec 4l, sub: Immediate Mil Measures, 
OPD Exec 4, Book 2. 

'* Remarks of Gen Marshall at SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 42. 

'5 Brief Jt Estimate, 20 Dec 4l, WPD 4402-136. 

« Msg, Prime Minister to War Cabinet and COS Committee, 23 Dec 41, Churchill, The Grand 
Alliance, pp. 664-65. 



Despite their apprehensions, General Marshall and the Army planners 

did not want to move either a small or a large force to the Brazilian bulge 

without Brazil's full consent and co-operation. The Army had hoped that 

the arrival of the Marine companies would provide the opening wedge to 

overcome the continued opposition of the Brazilian Army and Air Force to 

the entry of American combat forces.'^ On 20 December Under Secretary of 

State Welles assured General Marshall that Brazilian military as well as 

civilian sentiment toward collaboration in defense was "rapidly improving," 

and that "he thought Brazilian agreement to the rapid reinforcement we think 

necessary might be secured within ten days." The War Plans Division 

thereupon advised the Chief of Staff: 

If the ten-day estimate is even approximately accurate, we can afford to wait, but no 
longer. Every week now adds to the peril and difficulty of sea-borne troop movements 
to that area. Axis submarines in numbers are now reported between Natal and the African 
coast. Known Axis capabilities, possible Brazilian internal reactions, and unpredictable 
surprise moves, combine to create a growing peril. We now fight facing westward. The 
southeast lies open." 

Because the Department of State up to then had made no perceptible 
headway in persuading the Brazilian Government to consent to the estab- 
lishment of Army defense forces in Brazil, the planners urged "that the 
Secretary of War suggest directly to the President the immediate dispatch 
of a special emissary, high in his confidence, and of high rank, with instruc- 
tions to present the foregoing views to President Vargas in person, as an 
expression of the President's own opinion." ^" Acting on this recommenda- 
tion, Secretary of War Stimson and General Marshall tentatively arranged 
for Vice President Wallace to fly to Brazil as spokesman for the Brazil 
project. They discussed the plan for a special emissary with President Roose- 
velt on 22 and 23 December, and the President's initial reaction was favor- 
able. Mr. Wallace "volunteered" his services on the morning of 23 December; 
that afternoon he was thoroughly briefed on the Army's Brazil plans by Colo- 
nel Ridgway of the War Plans Division, and on the following day the Sec- 
retary of War approved the detailed arrangements for Mr. Wallace's trip. 
Nevertheless, the Vice President did not go to Brazil, presumably because 

>' Stimson Diary, entry of 11 Dec 41; Notes on SLC ratg, 20 Dec 41, SLC Min, Vol. 
11, Item 40. 

" Remarks of Mr. Welles at SLC mtg, 20 Dec 41, as recorded in Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 
Dec 41, WPD 4224-208. The Department of State transcript of Mr. Welles's remarks reads: "I 
think the opening wedge has now been placed and I think that can be enlarged fairly rapidly." 
SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 40. 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 41, WPD 4224-208. 



the President was persuaded by Under Secretary Welles that this special 
mission would compromise his position at the foreign ministers' meeting 
scheduled to assemble at Rio de Janeiro on 15 January.^' 

Although President Roosevelt decided against sending a special emissary 
to Brazil, he was fully aware of the vital significance of the South Atlantic 
airway and of the dangers inherent in the Brazilian situation. He discussed 
the problem at some length in the first formal Arcadia meeting on 23 De- 
cember, at which it was also decided that the United States should have 
exclusive responsibility for planning and executing the Brazil operation." 
In the meeting of 4 January, the President again "went into detail about 
why President Vargas of Brazil could not leap into action and give us per- 
mission to put more troops on the Natal Peninsula." President Vargas, Mr. 
Roosevelt remarked, "had to feel his way— be sure of his ground." " The 
President announced that the Army and Navy must be prepared for action 
in Brazil, but that no decision to act could yet be made.^'' 

The Army's plan for action in Brazil contemplated the establishment of 
a Brazil theater with an ultimate Army strength of between 50,000 and 
60,000 troops, or such smaller combat force, down to General Marshall's 
minimum of 3,600 men with air support, as the Brazilians might willingly 
admit to their territory. It will be recalled that General Headquarters had 
substantially completed an Operations Plan for a Northeast Brazil Theater 
on the eve of Pearl Harbor. The War Plans Division approved this plan on 
17 December and designated the 9th Division as the principal component 
of the initial force. The 45th Division was to be sent as a reinforcement, if 
that became necessary." General Headquarters was directed to organize a 
task force for Brazil and, at General Headquarters' suggestion, General 
Marshall designated Maj. Gen. George Grunert, Commanding General, 
VI Army Corps, with headquarters at Providence, Rhode Island, as com- 
mander of the Brazil expedition.^'' General Grunert was the first task force 

Notations on Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 41; Memo, Col Ridgway for CofS, 24 Dec 41. 
Both in WPD 4224-208. Stimson Diary, entry of 22 Dec 41; Note for Record, Col Handy, WPD, 
23 Dec 41, WPD 4516-41; Memo for Record, Gen Gerow, WPD, 23 Dec 41, WPD 4622-43; 
Memos, Col Ridgway for CofS, 23 and 24 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, Book 4; Memo, Miss Grace 
Tully for President, 23 Dec 41, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

22 Gen Marshall's Notes on White House mtg, 23 Dec 41, WPD 4402-136; Arnold, Global 
Mission, p. 286. 

=3 Arnold, Global Mission, p. 288. 

Notes on White House mtg, 4 Jan 42, OPD Exec 8, Book 2. 
" Memo, WPD for GHQ, 17 Dec 41, WPD 4516-38; Report of G-3 GHQ, 18 Dec 41, 
GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2. 

Until October 1941 General Grunert had been Commanding General, Philippine Depart- 
ment. In April 1942, after the shelving of the Bra2il plan, he became Commanding General, 
Sixth Corps Area, with headquarters at Chicago, Illinois. 



commander to reach Washington after Pearl Harbor. He and members of 
his VI Corps staff, and Brig. Gen. Rene E. deR. Hoyle, Commanding General, 
9th Division, with members of his staff, reported to General Headquarters 
on the morning of 24 December to study and revise the Brazil theater plan. 
The generals and their staffs, members of the General Headquarters staff, 
and members of the Joint Planning Group that had visited Brazil the pre- 
ceding summer worked together on the Brazil plan for six days. Thereafter, 
General Grunert and his staff continued to develop the plan— now desig- 
nated Lilac— at their Providence headquarters.^^ The Lilac plan, like the 
Brazil plans drafted before Pearl Harbor, proposed the concentration of United 
States Army forces around the Belem, Natal, and Recife air bases, with the 
greatest strength at Natal. It provided for an initial ground force of about 
15,000 men (the reinforced 9th Division less detachments) with air support, 
and for two reinforcing echelons, as needed, of 19,000 men each.^* Consider- 
ing the shortage of shipping and the urgent demands of other theaters, the 
Army probably could not have sent more than 15,000 ground troops to Brazil 
until much later in 1942. Despite the planning for a larger movement, the 
dispatch of a 15,000-man force, with adequate air support, would probably 
have ended the Army's apprehensions about the situation in Northeast Brazil 
and in the South Atlantic. 

The Army's preparations for sending a task force to Brazil coincided with 
the establishment of a new Brazilian-American military board to co-ordinate 
defense arrangements in Northeast Brazil. The War Department in October 
1941 had readily agreed to Brazil's proposal that a permanent joint military 
board be established to plan and supervise the construction of new base 
facilities, and by early November the United States and Brazilian Armies 
had informally arranged the details of the board's organization and duties.^^ 
They agreed that its specific mission should be to "select the actual site of 
each installation, determine its cost, and recommend the share each country 
should bear of that cost." This last element promised difficulties, since 
the division of costs would depend on what forces each nation contributed 
to the joint defense. After some delay General Miller, as Chief of the Mili- 

" Reports of DCofS GHQ, 22, 24, 29, and 30 Dec 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2; En- 
tries of 23 and 24 Dec 4l, GHQ 314.81 Diary; Memo, SGS for GHQ, 23 Dec 4l, OCS 16374- 
44; GHQ Memo for Record. GHQ G-1 file No. 123; Memo, DCofS GHQ for Gen Grunert, CG 
VI Army Corps, 24 Dec 4l, sub: Directive, GHQ 045.3 NEB. 

Reports, 14 Jan 42-12 Feb 42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2; Memo, Maj Mathewson for 
Gen Eisenhower, WPD, 18 Feb 42, WPD 4224-230. 

2» Memo, Col McCunniff for WPD, 21 Oct 41; Memo, WPD for Ln Off Dept of State, 29 
Oct 41; Telg, Gen Miller to G-2, 3 Nov 41; Memo, WPD for Ln Off Dept of Scare, 6 Nov 41. 
All in WPD 4516-28. Langer and Gleason, Undeclared War, pp. 602-03. 

so Memo, WPD for G-2, 24 Nov 41, WPD 4115-63. 



tary Mission, and General Dutra, the Brazilian Minister of War, signed an 
agreement on 17 December 1941 creating the Joint Military Board for the 
Northeast. It provided that, in addition to a Brazilian general officer as 
president, the board was to have six members, with each nation contributing 
engineer, air, and naval officers. The board was to be located permanently 
in Northeast Brazil after preliminary meetings in Rio de Janeiro.'^ 

The Army selected Col. Robert C. Candee of the Air Corps and Col. 
Lucius D. Clay of the Corps of Engineers as its members of the new board 
and brought them into General Headquarters to study the Army's Brazil 
plans. Like the members of the Joint Planning Group, they were given a 
dual mission: in addition to doing the prescribed joint planning, they were 
to be General Grunert's and General Headquarters' advance agents in Brazil, 
since General Headquarters anticipated that they would eventually serve on 
the theater staff. The Army members of the board left Washington on 
2 January 1942 and reached Rio de Janeiro five days later." 

Formal meetings of the new board began on 14 January, and nine days 
later Colonels Candee and Clay recommended the expenditure of $2,700,000 
for airway improvements essential to the Ferrying Command's operations. 
In addition, they urgently recommended that small groups of United States 
Army mechanics and communications specialists be put at each airfield and 
that emergency shipments of ammunition and machine guns be sent to North- 
east Brazil to permit transient air crews and Brazilian Army troops to defend 
the fields and planes against any locally organized fifth-column attack." 
The Joint Military Board was not able to take any effective action on these 
or any other proposals until the outcome of the Rio de Janeiro Foreign 
Ministers Conference was known and the separate discussions in which Under 
Secretary of State Welles was then engaging with President Vargas and his 
principal advisers were concluded. The day before the Rio conference ad- 
journed, Colonels Candee and Clay described their position in these words: 

We left Washington with the impression that the War Department regarded Northeast 
Brazil as a highly strategic area where hostile military operations might develop at any 
moment and where it was therefore imperative to have U.S. troops — air and ground — as 

" Agreement entitled, Organization and Regulating Directives of the Joint Military Board for 
the Northeast, signed at Rio de Janeiro, 17 Dec 41, copy in WPD 4516-J7. 

On the same day that the agreement was signed. General Miller was transferred from his posi- 
tion as Chief of the Military Mission to that of military attache. Memo, G-1 for CofS, 20 Feb 42, 
OCS 1 6770-5 }7. 

»2 WPD Note for Record, 24 Dec 41, WPD 4516-28; Entry of 24 Dec 41, GHQ 314.81 
Diary; Ltr, TAG to CG FF, 25 Dec 41, and 1st Ind, GHQ to TAG, 8 Jan 42; Directive for Senior 
U.S. Army Member, Jt Mil Bd for Northeast Brazil, 1 Jan 42. Last two in AG 380 (5-18-40), 
Sec. 2. 

" Ltr, Col Candee (dirough Gen Miller) to CG GHQ, 23 Jan 42, GHQ 381 NEB. 



soon as possible. Wc find in Rio much "solidarity," Good Neighborliness, and a willing- 
ness to concede the importance of the defense of N.E. Brazil, but practically no inclination 
to do anything concrete in the matter. The Brazilians agree that the area should be de- 
fended and say that they will seek our air units, or even ground forces, when attack 
becomes imminent. In the meantime, they will gladly permit the conversion of commer- 
cial fields into military airports and the installation of other facilities and improvements 
by us while they furnish the ground protection. The Ambassador agrees that we should 
have troops in N.E. Brazil but believes that these must be limited to air units for the 
present. Mr. Sumner Welles regards Brazilians as among our best friends but holds that 
the War Department has put a considerable strain on their friendship by blocking the 
delivery of certain military equipment which we have promised to furnish Brazil.''' 

In early February the American members of the board made a reconnais- 
sance of Northeast Brazil that helped in the preparation of more detailed 
plans for airfield improvements. But when Colonels Candee and Clay returned 
to Rio de Janeiro, they found nothing more could be done by the board 
until the Brazilian and United States Governments arrived at a more general 
understanding, and therefore they recommended and General Headquarters 
approved their recall to the United States." Their final report, submitted by 
Colonel Clay after he reached Washington, stated that the Joint Military 
Board could make no further progress because its Bra2ilian members held 
that the board's jurisdiction must be restricted to supervising a construc- 
tion program that would not involve or imply participation of United States 
Army ground forces in the defense of the Brazilian bulge. Informally, the 
Brazilian president of the board had advised that nothing could be arranged 
about joint defense until the Brazilian and United States Governments had 
negotiated a formal agreement delimiting their joint defense responsibilities.^^ 
General Miller had reached this same conclusion a month earlier and had 
"urgently recommended that some general agreement be reached between 
the two governments, through diplomatic channels, which will satisfactorily 
solve this question of participation of the armed forces in the defense of 
Northeast Brazil." " 

The Approach to Collaboration 

The approach to a new plan for wartime collaboration between the 
United States and Brazil began with the harmonious co-operation between 
the two governments in the Rio de Janeiro Foreign Ministers Conference. On 

" Memo, Col Candee for CG GHQ, 27 Jan 42, GHQ 686 NEB. 

" Memo, Col Candee for CG GHQ, 11 Feb 42, WPD 4516-28; Telg, MA Rio to G-2 (em- 
bodying msg, Col Candee to GHQ), 11 Feb 42, WPD 4516-42; Report of G-3 GHQ, 16 F* 
42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs Binder 2. 

^0 Memo, Col Clay for WPD, 24 Feb 42' GHQ 381 NEB. 

" Report, MA Rio to Amer Ambassador, Rio, 30 Jan 42, WPD 4424-204. 



the eve of this meeting, the United States Army was not sanguine about the 
prospect for military co-operation with the Brazilian Army and Air Force. 
In a frank discussion on 3 January 1942 with Under Secretary of State 
Welles, General Marshall confessed that what worried him most was that 
the Brazilian military leaders had apparently changed their minds since 1939 
and 1940 about wanting American assistance in the defense of the Brazilian 
bulge. It was also pointed out to the Under Secretary that Brazil had promised 
in the 1940 Staff Agreement that if the United States was attacked by an Old 
World nation Brazil would permit American forces to use its air and naval 
bases and transit its territory, even though Brazil itself was not at war. Mr. 
Welles insisted that the Brazilian Government and Army were loyally sup- 
porting the war effort of the United States, and that Brazil would break 
relations with the Axis nations and collaborate more closely in consequence 
of the Rio conference.'® A few days later the Under Secretary left for Rio 
de Janeiro, bearing with him a letter addressed by President Roosevelt to 
President Vargas containing these passages: 

The public, of course, knows very little of the helpful and effective steps your Gov- 
ernment has taken. I, on the other hand, have been kept fully informed by Mr. Welles 
and General Marshall and my other advisers of your magnificent cooperation, and I know 
that it goes far beyond any narrow interpretation of Hemisphere defense. I appreciate 
from the bottom of my heart your generous attitude and assistance with regard to such 
matters as the ferry service to Africa and the naval and air patrols from your ports and 
airfields, to mention only a few. 

I did not fail to catch the import of your reference in your speech of December 31 to 
the delivery of "the material elements which we still lack." ... I assure you that before 
long we shall be able to supply you with the equipment for which you have been 

At the close of the Rio conference, on 28 January 1942, Brazil broke diplo- 
matic relations with the Axis nations — a definite step toward military co- 
operation, though not one toward the entry of American security forces into 
Northeast Brazil. 

In Rio de Janeiro Under Secretary Welles thoroughly explored the prob- 
lems in Brazilian-American defense collaboration in a series of conferences 
with President Vargas and with the Brazilian Minister of War and Army 
Chief of Staff. He learned that the Brazilian Army leaders had objected to 
severance of diplomatic relations with the Axis nations because they believed 
that that meant war in the near future, and they felt Brazil's armed forces 
were in no condition to participate in the war. They were also concerned 
about the ambiguous position of Argentina. In breaking relations, President 

3» Notes on SLC mtg, 3 Jan 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 42. 
Ltr, President Roosevelt to President Vargas, 7 Jan 42, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



Vargas had overruled the Army on that point, but he told Mr. Welles that 
stationing American ground combat forces in Brazil was out of the question 
for the time being. In the future it would be contingent upon the delivery 
of substantial quantities of military equipment that would permit Brazilian 
and American troops to engage in joint defense measures on an equal 

President Vargas and Mr. Welles also developed a plan for a new organiza- 
tional relationship between the Brazilian and American armed forces. This 
involved, first of all, the replacement of General Miller and also of Lt. Col. 
Thomas D. White, the air attache and Chief of the Military Air Mission. 
At Mr. Welles's urging, the Chief of Staff" finally agreed to the recall of Gen- 
eral Miller and Colonel White, though after their return to Washington 
General Marshall kept them on his planning staff for several months as 
informal advisers on Brazilian problems."*' The second step in the new mili- 
tary relationship with Brazil was to be the establishment of a joint Brazilian- 
American defense commission. The commission, with headquarters in 
Washington, was to be staffed by high-ranking officers of the two nations. 
It was intended that the commission should become the main channel for 
all military communication and arrangement between the two nations. Gen- 
eral Marshall and Admiral Stark readily agreed to its establishment, and the 
Chief of Staff tentatively selected General Embick to serve as its senior Army 

The crux of a satisfactory defense arrangement with Brazil in early 
1942— as it had been since the summer of 1939— was the ability of the 
United States to deliver munitions to the Brazilian Army and Air Force. Under 
the lend-lease allocations in effect in January 1942, Brazil was to receive very 
few modern combat items before the fall of 1942. On 19 January Mr. Welles 
telephoned from Rio de Janeiro to President Roosevelt and asked the Presi- 
dent to find out just what additional items the Army could release to Brazil 
in the near future. Mr. Roosevelt called General Marshall, and the Chief of 
Staff after consulting with his staff promised the immediate or early delivery 
of sixty-five light tanks and more than two thousand military vehicles of 
various types. The President also inquired about more coast defense equip- 

Mr. Welles's report of his Brazil trip, verbatim in Dept of State minutes of SLC mtg, 10 
Feb 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 46. 

" Memo, Gen Miller for G-2, 30 Jan 42, WPD 4224-204; Telg, Gen Marshall to Gen Miller, 
2 Feb 42, WPD 4224-223; Mr. Welles's Report at SLC mtg, 10 Feb 42, SLC Min, Vol. 
II, Item 46. 

Notes on SLC mtg, 10 Feb 42, SLC Min, Vol. II, Item 46; Memo, SGS for Gen Embick, 
15 Feb 42, OCS 6526-89. This was to be an addition to General E mbick 's d uties a s senior Army 
member of the Canadian and Mexican joint commissions. See Chs. [x!n] and |XIVj below. 



ment, but General Marshall explained that the Brazilians did not want the 
obsolete weapons that were available/^ Neither did the Brazilians want all 
of the motor vehicles offered, but they did want a good many more light 
tanks, and many items not offered — medium tanks, antiaircraft guns, anti- 
tank guns, and combat airplanes— items that the Army did not believe it 
could release for months to come/'' 

The Brazilian Minister of Finance, Mr. Souza Costa, who came to Wash- 
ington in early February, headed a group of Brazilian officials that pressed 
the Munitions Assignments Board and the War Department for a more 
favorable allocation of ground arms than that promised through President 
Roosevelt in January. On 12 February the new War Department Munitions 
Assignments Committee (Ground) devoted its entire first meeting to a con- 
sideration of Brazilian requests, but the meeting ended with a decision that 
not much more could be done to increase or speed up deliveries to Brazil. 
The War Department at this time was terribly pressed by the demands of 
its own forces, and by the President's insistence that the terms of the Soviet 
protocol be fulfilled. Furthermore, the British representative announced at 
the 12 February meeting that "if an increase were contemplated for Brazil 
or any other country, then an all-round reconsideration of the position of 
all of these countries would be necessary." Minister Costa met this situation 
with a statement on 17 February that he was completely dissatisfied with 
the Army's program for Brazil. Mr. Welles thereupon indicated that he in- 
tended to back the Brazilian demands for an enlarged program.*' 

This impasse was broken on 21 February, after the intercession of Mr. 
Hopkins. The War and State Departments worked out a compromise that 
involved immediate delivery to Brazil of twenty additional light tanks and 
four 3-inch antiaircraft guns (taken out of the New York City harbor 
defenses for this purpose), and the drafting of a new lend-lease agreement 
that promised substantially larger munitions deliveries to Brazil in the future 
than had hitherto been planned. On 3 March the United States and Brazil 
signed four agreements, three of which were concerned with a $100,000,000 
credit to be advanced by the Export-Import Bank for the development of 
Brazilian production of strategic materials. The fourth was the new lend- 
lease agreement, calling for the eventual delivery to Brazil of military equip 

" Memo for Record, Gen Marshall, 19 Jan 42; Memo, Gen Marshall for Secy State, 19 Jan 42. 
Both in WPD 4224-217. Memo, CofS for President Roosevelt, 20 Jan 42, WPD 4244-45. 

" Memo, Col Barber, WPD, for CofS, 5 Feb 42, WPD 4224-217; Memo, Gen Burns, Exec 
Munitions Assignments Board, for Brig Gen Henry S. Aurand, Def Aid Dir, 10 Feb 42, OCS 

Min No. 2, WD Munitions Assignments Committee (Ground), 12 Feb 42, OCS 21210-32; 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Feb 42, WPD 4224-217. 



ment to the value of $200,000,000, or double the amount planned in 1S)41 
and provided for in the Brazilian- American Lend- Lease Agreement of 1 Octo- 
ber 1941. Separately, but at the same time, the United States Army agreed that 
it would deliver certain items to Brazil before the end of 1942— one hundred 
medium tanks, more than two hundred light tanks, fifty combat airplanes, 
and a substantial number of antiaircraft and antitank guns. The new lend- 
lease agreement and the accompanying pledges on deliveries in 1942 went 
far to satisfy the Brazilian quest for arms."'^ 

The final impetus for a general Brazilian- American agreement on military 
collaboration came from the United States Army Air Forces. The rapidly 
mounting volume of military air traffic through Brazil made enlarged air base 
facilities and the services of Army mechanics and technicians mandatory. On 
15 February Brig. Gen. Robert Olds, commanding general of the Ferrying 
Command, personally presented his problems to President Roosevelt. He 
needed at least seven hundred and fifty additional men in Brazil, at the Belem, 
Natal, and Recife air bases, housing constructed for these men, and enlarged 
gasoline storage and other new base facilities. He also wanted to obtain 
blanket clearance for Army-controlled flight operations through Brazil. The 
President told General Olds to ask Under Secretary of State Welles to sub- 
mit these requests to the Brazilian Government. Mr. Welles declined to do 
so until the Brazilians had been satisfied on the score of lend-lease.*' There- 
upon, Secretary Stimson sent a personal appeal to the President, urging him 
to submit General Olds's requests directly to President Vargas, and adding 
as a postscript: 

I cannot tell you how important I think this Natal danger is. With the redoubled 
necessity of planes for Burma and China; with the French fleet moving in the Mediter- 
ranean; with subs in the Caribbean, we can't allow Brazil, who is not at war, to hold up 
our life line across Africa.''** 

The Army accompanied Mr. Stimson's plea for action with the more gen- 
erous proposal on early and future deliveries under lend-lease mentioned 
above, and the settlement of the lend-lease question a few days later paved 
the way for the submission of the Ferrying Command's requests to the Bra- 
zilian Government at the end of February. The Army had also proposed, 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Feb 42, WPD 4224-217; Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Feb 42; 
Memo, ASW McCloy for Under Secy State, 23 Feb 42. Last two in WPD 4244-47. Memo, WPD 
for Def Aid Dir, 1 Mar 42, WPD 4224-217; Hq USAF South Atlantic, MS, History of United 
States Army Forces South Atlantic (hereafter cited as Hist of USAFSA), App. IV (copy of 3 Mar 
42 Lend-Lease Agreement); Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. Ill, pp. 132-33; ASF Int Div, 
MS, Lend-Lease, II, 1255fr. 

" Min, War Council mtg, 16 Feb 42, SW Conf Binder 2, OCS Records; Memo, WPD for 
CofS, 18 Feb 42, WPD 4224-217. 

" Ltr, SW to President Roosevelt, 19 Feb 42, SW file, Whice House. 


once these requests were approved by Brazil, to send General Olds to Brazil 
to arrange the details of the Ferrying Command's new program."*' 

That program received Brazil's quick sanction following the signature of 
the new lend-lease agreement on 3 March. On 9 March President Vargas 
approved "a wide reaching program for Northeast Brazil" that included the 
stationing of eight hundred additional United States Army maintenance per- 
sonnel, new construction, and unrestricted flight privileges for Army aircraft. 
Two days later the Brazilian Chiefs of Staff (Army, Air Force, and Navy) 
and Foreign Minister Aranha agreed among themselves on the draft of a 
Brazilian- American defense agreement to be proposed to the United States. '° 

Thus, when General Olds arrived in Brazil in mid-March, he found a 
situation and an attitude very different from that existing only a month be- 
fore. Everything he wanted had already been granted or was now agreed to 
in conferences with Generals Dutra and Goes Monteiro, and with Brazilian 
Air Force authorities, including General Eduardo Gomes, the northern Brazil 
air commander. General Olds invited General Gomes to return with him 
to the United States and promised to provide his air force with thirty mod- 
ern bombers and thirty pursuit planes as soon as possible. The first incre- 
ment of this reinforcement — six B-25's and six P-40's — was lined up at 
Boiling Field in Washington for General Gomes' inspection before he re- 
turned to Brazil. After American crews flew these planes to Brazil in mid- 
April, there were still no more than one hundred fifty or so United States 
Army officers and enlisted men in Northeast Brazil; but they were firmly 
established there, and the way was open for enlarging their number in 
friendly co-operation with the armed forces of Brazil.'^ 

In the meantime, the War Department had given its immediate and en- 
thusiastic approval to the Brazilian draft of a defense agreement, the War 
Plans Division advising Mr. Welles, "we should lose no time in accepting 
it in principle." To expedite the preparation of a final draft satisfactory to 

" Ltt, ASW for Air to Under Secy State, 19 Feb 42, OPD 380 Brazil; Hist of South Atlantic 
Div, ATC, Ch. in, pp. 129-30. 

^° Telg, MA Rio to G-2, 9 Mat 42, Hist of USAFSA, App. V; Ltr, WPD to Actg Secy State, 
20 Mar 42, and other papers, OPD 381 Brazil. 

The measures authorized included the construction program previously recommended by 
the Army members of the Joint Military Board. Colonel Candee's recall from Brazil had been 
countermanded at the end of February, and he remained there to present this request jointly with 
General Olds. Colonel Candee returned to Washington with General Olds, and the War Depart- 
ment thereafter considered that the work and existence of the Joint Military Board had ended. 
WPD Memo for Record, WPD 4224-233; Memo, OPD for Cols Robert L. Walsh and Barber, 
1 Apr 42, OPD 336.6 Braz-U.S. 

Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. Ill, pp. 135fif; Telg, Gen Olds, Rio, to Gen Arnold, 
CG AAF, 19 Mar 42, and other papers, OPD 452.1 Brazil; OPD Diary, entries of 3 and 13 Apr 
42; Memo, OPD for Adm Turner, 15 Apr 42, OPD Exec 8, Book 4. 



both nations, the Army proposed that conversations take place in Rio de 
Janeiro as soon as possible between delegations headed by Ambassador 
CafFery and Foreign Minister Aranha. The Army would be represented in the 
conversations by Air and Plans officers to be sent from Washington, and the 
Navy by the Chief of the Naval Mission in Rio. Their purpose would be 
the conclusion of an agreement that would provide for the establishment of 
one or (as suggested by the Brazilians) two joint defense commissions, and 
that would also fix basic policies for their guidance. Once established, these 
defense commissions could work out the specific joint defense measures 
deemed necessary." The Navy and State Departments concurred in the 
Army's proposals. Under Secretary Welles indorsed in particular the Army's 
hope that the defense commissions would produce "a joint war plan similar 
to ABC-1 now in effect between the United States and Great Britain." ''^ 
The Brazilian Government promptly agreed to the proposed conversations 
in Rio de Janeiro to iron out the details of a defense agreement. 

To participate in the Rio conversations, the Army chose Col. Robert L. 
Walsh, then chief of the Air Intelligence staff, and Col. Henry A. Barber, Jr., 
of the Operations Division, who was General Ridgway's successor as the 
Army's principal Latin American planning officer. These officers were told 
that the "primary result" of the Rio conversations "should be the creation 
of Joint Defense Commissions in Washington and Rio for the purpose of 
preparing staff plans for the joint defense of Northeast Brazil," but that the 
conversations "should not involve the question of the stationing at present 
of large forces of American troops in Northeast Brazil." The Army also 
warned its conferees against insisting on any changes in the draft agreement 
that "would in any way react unfavorably from a political standpoint so as to 
jeopardize the operations and functions of present Air Corps ferrying activi- 
ties." " Colonels Walsh and Barber departed for Brazil on 5 April. By 18 
April the Rio conversations had produced a text agreeable to the United 
States and Brazilian delegations, although matters beyond their control de- 
layed its signature until 28 May 1942."'' 

The new defense agreement provided for the establishment of two joint 
military commissions, one to be located in Washington and the other in 
Rio de Janeiro, and specified the general policies that were to guide the 
work of the commissions in terms very similar to those contained in the 

" Ltr, WPD to Actg Secy Stace, 20 Mar 42, OPD 381 Brazil. 

Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Mar 42, SLC Min, Vol. 11, Item 48. 
» Memo, OPD for Cols Walsh and Barber, 1 Apr 42, OPD 336.6 Braz-U.S. 
58 Hist of USAFSA, pp. 34-36. 



prewar staff agreement. The Washington commission was to draft a joint 
defense plan for Northeast Brazil and make such other recommendations for 
joint action as the terms of the agreement and the developing international 
situation made necessary. The Rio commission was to act in association with 
the existing American Military and Naval Missions in improving the combat 
readiness of Brazilian forces." 

The negotiation of the Brazilian-American defense agreement of May 
1942 coincided with a fundamental change in the United States Army's policy 
toward Brazil. Since 1939 its objective had been to put its own ground and 
air forces into Northeast Brazil to protect that vital area against overseas 
attack. By June 1942 the Army had replaced this "original conception," as 
the Operations Division now called it, with the "present concept . . . that 
Brazil and the United States will collaborate on the preparation of defense 
measures to be carried out by the Brazilian armed forces, with the full sup- 
port of the United States armed forces for instruction and training in the use 
of the materiel which will be found necessary for us to supply." Further- 
more, the Army intended to make "every effort ... to maintain the flow 
of critical materiel established by the Lend-Lease program" for Brazil.'* 
Actually, German submarine activity in the Caribbean area and off the 
Brazilian coast held up lend-lease deliveries until midsummer, and the first 
shipload of goods promised to Brazil in January and February did not reach 
Recife until 20 June.'' Thereafter, the flow of military equipment was steady 
and increasingly large. 

The United States Army chose Maj. Gen. J. Garesche Ord as its repre- 
sentative on the Joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission established 
in Washington, and the Brazilian Army chose General Leitao de Carvalho, 
who had commanded the ground forces in northern Brazil. The formal ses- 
sions of this commission, which functioned most harmoniously from the 
outset, began immediately after Brazil declared war on the European Axis 
in August, and its first recommendations were issued in September. The 
Rio commission was not organized until December 1942, after the Army had 
established a theater organization in Northeast Brazil— the United States 
Army Forces South Atlantic."^' 

" Ibid.. App. X. 

5" Memo, OPD for Col Walsh, 9 Jun 42, Hist of USAFSA, App. XII. 
" Statemenc of Adm Spears at SLC mtg, 22 Jun 42, SLC Min, Vol. III. 

"o Ltr, TAG to OPD, 4 Jul 42; Memo, Gen Ord for Col R. H. Hobbs, 4 Nov 43. Both in 
OPD 334.8 Jt Braz-U.S. Def Com. Memo, OPD for CofS, 18 Aug 42, OPD 336 Brazil. 
Memo, OPD for G-2, 1 Dec 42, OPD 334.8 Jt Braz-U.S. Mil Coram. 



The United States Army Forces South Atlantic 

The Army had launched its Brazil theater organization in preliminary 
form six months earlier, in May and June 1942. After Colonels Walsh and 
Barber returned to Washington at the end of April, they recommended the 
assignment of a general officer to co-ordinate all Army activities in northern 
Brazil. "It is high time," advised Colonel Walsh, "that we had a definite 
organization there to tie together the Ferry Command bases, the airport de- 
velopment work, intelligence activities, Pan American Ferries, Panair do 
Brazil, and innumerable lesser projects, as well as to afford assistance to the 
Brazilians in defense matters." An Army headquarters in Northeast Brazil 
could also handle relationships with the Navy, with the several United States 
civilian agencies operating in the area, and with the local Brazilian authori- 
ties. The Army's acceptance of the idea that Brazilian forces would provide 
the ground and air defense for the area made closer liaison with Brazilian 
commanders highly desirable. As Colonel Walsh also pointed out, these com- 
manders exercised a good deal of autonomous authority, and many matters 
could be settled much more readily if presented directly to them instead of 
through the diplomatic channel at Rio de Janeiro. 

General Marshall and his staff advisers agreed that a general co-ordinating 
headquarters in Northeast Brazil ought to be established, but at first they 
could not see how it could be done without the consent of the Department 
of State and of Brazil itself Ambassador Caffery or Mr. Welles might object 
to the idea, or at least insist on superior control by the embassy at Rio. The 
proper channel for obtaining Brazilian consent would be the joint commis- 
sion that was to be established in Washington, but that commission might 
not be organized and in a position to act for many weeks to come. The need 
was immediate. The Operations Division therefore proposed to establish the 
new headquarters in British Guiana at the outset and then move it to Brazil 
when the consent of the joint commission could be obtained. General Marshall 
approved this plan on 20 May, and chose Colonel Walsh to be the Army's 
South Atlantic and Northeast Brazil commander. The Operations Division 
arranged for him to be promoted and designated as the commanding general 
of the Air Forces' newly organized South Atlantic Wing, with jurisdiction 
over airway operations from Florida and Puerto Rico to the shores of Africa. 
This position would require him to make frequent trips to Northeast Brazil 
from his British Guiana headquarters, so that in practice he could act as the 

Memo, ACofAS A-2 for Gen Strong, ACofS G-2, 2 May 42, Hist of USAFSA, App. VI. 



Army commander in the Brazil area."^' On the basis of formal instructions 
issued by the Ferrying Command, General Walsh established his headquarters 
at Atkinson Field, British Guiana, on 26 June 1942. He also had detailed 
informal instructions from the Operations Division explaining his duties as 
Army co-ordinator in Brazil. In this capacity he represented the Army in its 
conduct of business with Brazilian authorities, the United States Navy, and 
civilian agencies.'^'' 

When General Walsh made his first trip to Natal at the beginning 
of July, he found its air base— the most important of the Brazilian 
airfields— virtually defenseless against any sort of attack. Brazilian forces in 
the Northeast numbered about eighteen thousand men, but they were too 
widely dispersed and poorly equipped to provide much protection for the 
air bases. Aside from its fifty United States marines, the Natal base had a 
Brazilian guard of ninety men equipped with fifteen pistols. It had no anti- 
aircraft guns in place, no radar or aircraft warning system, no protective 
measures in force such as the dispersion of aircraft and of gasoline, and the 
nearest defensive aircraft were an hour's flying distance away at Recife.^'' 

Two months earlier General Marshall had been distressed to learn that 
none of the twenty-four tactical aircraft (eight bombers and sixteen pursuit 
planes) that had been supplied by the United States in March and April had 
flown for a week, not only because of the lack of 100-octane gasoline but 
also because of the lack of Brazilian pilots qualified to fly them. His vigor- 
ous protest had good effect. General Gomes was supplied with more pilots, 
and he was presently able to set up fairly effective training programs with 
American instructor personnel for pursuit planes at Recife and for the 
medium bombers at Fortaleza. Under United States Navy auspices the bombers 
while jointly manned by Brazilian and United States crews engaged in a 
good deal of offshore patrolling during the summer of 1942, but lack of spare 
parts and of adequate engineering facilities, as well as a rapid turnover of 

"'Memo, Gen Miller for CofS, 4 May 42, and other papers, OPD 381 Brazil; Min, 
Gen Council mtg, 12 May 42; Memo, OPD for CofS, 16 May 42; Memo, OPD for TAG, 27 May 
42. Last two in OPD 381 Brazil. 

OPD's initial proposal designated the new position and organization as the "Commanding 
General and Staff, South Atlantic Wing, Air Forces Ferr>'ing Command." In late May it was called 
the "South American Wing." When activated, it was designated the "24th Ferrying Wing." The 
Ferrying Command itself became the Air Transport Command on 1 July 1942. On 16 July it was 
officially designated the "South Atlantic Ferrying Wing, Air Transport Command." Subsequently, 
it was designated "South Atlantic Division." To avoid confusion, it is referred to in this text as 
the South Atlantic Wing, its customary designation at the time. 

Memo, CG Ferrying Command for Col Walsh, 19 Jun 42; Memo, OPD for Col Walsh, 9 
Jun 42. Both in Hist of USAFSA, Apps. IX and XII. Hist of So Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. IV. 
Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. IV, pp. 82-84. 



personnel, made the pursuit group at Recife of little value in air defense. 
It was mid-1943 before the Brazilian Air Force obtained enough planes and 
trained pilots to provide the major air bases with more than a modicum of 
interceptor protection.*'' 

On several occasions during July and August General Walsh and the 
Brazilian commanders discussed measures for improving the ground defenses 
of the air bases. As a matter of policy the War Department had decided by 
August that any weapons for this purpose sent to Brazil should be "initially 
manned and operated by U.S. Army personnel and turned over to the 
Brazilians after a sufficient period of training.'"'' In accordance with the 
policy, and also with a September recommendation of the Joint Brazil-United 
States Defense Commission, the Army arranged to ship 135 machine guns 
with ammunition from the United States, and to send three detachments 
(one officer and fifteen enlisted men each) from the 66th Coast Artillery 
(Antiaircraft) Regiment in Puerto Rico to each of the three major Brazilian 
air bases.*" After the completion of the sixty-day training period at the end 
of the year, these detachments were returned to Puerto Rico. Thereafter, 
Brazilian soldiers continued to man the guns, but the United States Army 
kept title to them.^' 

The defense of the Brazilian bulge against external attack during 1942 
was mainly provided far afield by the Soviet forces resisting the sweep of 
Nazi arms, by the British forces checking the Axis drive into Egypt, and 
by the United States Navy's success in stopping the tide of Japanese advance 
in the Pacific. Nearer at hand, the United States Army had ground and air 
forces in the Caribbean area and in the continental United States that could 
have been deployed to Brazil in the event of a real emergency. The most 
effective combat element close at hand was the United States Navy's South 
Atlantic Force, with which Brazilian naval and air forces began to operate 
in informal association in the spring of 1942. 

The South Atlantic Force (redesignated Fourth Fleet in March 1943), 
commanded by Vice Adm. Jonas H. Ingram, was a relatively small light 
cruiser and destroyer force with a very wide field of operations and a variety 
of duties. It ranged the western South Atlantic, escorting convoys, inter- 
cepting blockade runners that were operating from the Far East around Cape 

Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 10 May 42, WDCSA 42-43 Brazil; Lcrs, Under Secy 
State to CofS, 13, 14, and 16 May 42, AG 381 (5-13-42); Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. 
V, pp. 116-18; Hist of USAFSA, pp. 287-97. 

Memo, OPD for DCofS, 9 Aug 42, WDCSA 42-43 Brazil. 
«» Memo, OPD for SOS, 16 Sep 42; Memo, OPD for AAF, 23 Sep 42. Both in OPD 580.82 

68 Hist of USAFSA, pp. 285-87. 



Horn to Axis Europe, and searching for Axis submarines and surface raiders. 
It also gave protection of a sort to the long coast line of Brazil from Bahia 
northward, as well as to the rnidocean garrison of American forces estab- 
lished on Ascension Island in 1942. Navy seaplanes had begun their opera- 
tions from Brazilian bases in December 1941, and in April 1942 the Navy 
brought in land-based amphibian planes to operate in patrols from the air 
bases at Natal and Recife. In the same month President Vargas directed his 
Minister of Marine to put Brazilian naval vessels under Admiral Ingram's 
informal operational control. Also, Admiral Ingram worked out an arrange- 
ment with General Gomes under which Brazilian Air Force operations in 
the bulge area were integrated with operations plans of the United States 

The Army Air Forces in Washington looked askance at the Navy's plans 
for expanding its Brazil-based air operations, the Air Forces preferring if 
possible to keep the Navy out of the land air bases on the Brazilian airway 
altogether. In April 1942 the Air Forces proposed that its technician detach- 
ments being sent to Belem, Natal, and Recife replace the small Marine 
garrisons. The Ferrying Command needed their housing and the full use of 
the other facilities that the Navy wanted to share. The Navy agreed to with- 
draw the marines from Belem, but it insisted on keeping them at Natal and 
Recife to guard its amphibian operations from those bases.^' The Navy also 
insisted on a new joint agreement to cover the use of Brazilian air bases. On 
27 April the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved an agreement that accorded the 
Navy "the use of Army facilities as . . . necessary for the operation and 
maintenance of land-based, carrier-based, or amphibian type aircraft, subject 
to determination by the Army as to time and duration of such use, in order 
not to interfere with the primary purpose of these facilities." " Thereafter, 
the Navy conducted or controlled all over-ocean patrol operations from 
Brazilian bases. These operations started in earnest in the same month that 
German submarines moved into the western South Atlantic. 

Brazil's formal entry into the war followed a German decision in June 
to launch a concentrated submarine attack against shipping off the North- 

Memo, Commander Task Force 23 for CNO, 15 May 42, sub: Report of Operations in the 
South Atlantic Area Covering the Period February 5, 1942 to May 15, 1942, OPD 381 Brazil; 
Incl to Memo, OPD for CofS, 27 Aug 42, OPD 336 Brazil; Memo, Lt Col Kenner F. Hertford 
for Gen Eisenhower, OPD 28 Apr 42, OPD 334.8 (3-6-42); Morison, Battle of the Atlantic. 
Ch. XV. United States Navy Department, Bureau of Yards and Docks, Building the Navy's Bases 
in World War II (Washington: 1947), 11, Ai-Al, contains a brief description of the development 
of naval facilities in Brazil. 

Memo, CG AAF for CofS, 10 Apr 42, and notations thereon, OPD 045.3 (3-2-42); Memo, 
Brig Gen St. Clair Streett for Gen Eisenhower, OPD, 24 Apr 42, OPD 580.82 Brazil. 
" Memo, Secy JCS for CofS and CINCUS, 28 Apr 42, OPD 580.82 Brazil. 



east coast. When a pack of ten submarines sank five Brazilian vessels be- 
tween 14 and 17 August, including a troopship with heavy loss of life, 
Brazil countered by declaring war on Germany and Italy, on 22 August 1942. 
As General Marshall remarked two days later, the Brazilian declaration of 
war did not materially change the situation. Brazilian forces merely shifted 
from covert to overt co-operation with United States forces, and Brazil asked 
for a more rapid delivery of lend-lease supplies so that it could take a larger 
part in the military -effort of the United Nations. Brazil entered the war 
with enthusiasm, though with some fears at first that the German submarine 
attack in the north might be part of a concerted plan that would involve an 
internal uprising among the foreign minorities in southern Brazil. Actually, 
German submarines soon found it healthier to operate at a much greater dis- 
tance from the Brazilian coast, and the Brazilian people united behind the 
Vargas administration in a manner that ended the threat of internal subver- 
sion. This was Brazil's own war brought on by the sinking of thirteen 
Brazilian ships in the months preceding, and Brazil joined with earnestness 
and purpose in the common effort to defeat the Axis nations." 

Eight days after the Brazilian declaration of war. Admiral Ingram met 
with his staff and with General Walsh and other Army representatives, and 
announced that as senior United States commander in the area he was 
assuming operational command as "Chief of the Allied Forces in the South 
Atlantic." A few days later the British West African naval commander visited 
Admiral Ingram's headquarters at Recife, and in consequence the United 
States Navy and British Royal Navy arranged a geographical division of 
the South Atlantic that made its western half, to and including Ascension 
Island, an American defense responsibility. Since the only South Atlantic 
combat operations then under way were strictly naval in character, the Army 
did not challenge Admiral Ingram's unilateral assumption of operational re- 
sponsibility, but his action probably helped influence the Army's decision 
to establish a command headquarters on Brazilian soil.'* 

In conferences with General Walsh during July and August, General 
Gomes had suggested that the Army move its headquarters from British 
Guiana to Brazil. During July the South Atlantic Wing commander had set 
up an "advance echelon" headquarters at the Natal air base to supervise air- 

" Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, p. 381; Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. IV, p. 90; 
Min, War Council mtg, 24 Aug 42, SW Conf Binder 2, OCS Records; Military Intelligence Serv- 
ice study, title: Summary of the Situation in Brazil Since Declaration of War, 11 Nov 42, OPD 
336 Brazil. 

Hist of USAFSA, pp. 61-63; Monson, Battle o{ the Atlantic, p. 383; Min, War Council 
mtg, 11 Nov 42, SW Conf Binder 2, OCS Records. 



way operations, and, at Atkinson Field, he had divided his small staff into 
two groups, one handling Air Transport Command affairs and the other de- 
fense and supply matters. Following the Brazilian declaration of war, General 
Walsh asked the War Department for authority to move his "sector and 
SOS" staff to Recife, so that he could work more closely with Brazilian 
commanders as well as with the Navy in the planning and execution of de- 
fense measures. Since the Brazilians themselves had suggested this move, 
Ambassador Caffery had also requested that the Army move its headquarters 
to Brazil."' 

General Walsh's recommendation resulted in the establishment (officially 
on 24 November, actually in early December) of the Army theater head- 
quarters at Recife known as the United States Army Forces South Atlantic. 
A separate South Atlantic Wing headquarters had been established in the 
meantime at Natal on 10 November. General Walsh commanded both. The 
wing headquarters continued to control airway operations from Trinidad to 
the shores of Africa until mid-1943, whereas the territorial jurisdiction of 
the theater headquarters extended only from Brazil's northern border to 
Ascension Island. Since Army airway and intelligence operations and person- 
nel were exempted from its control, the new theater organization had vir- 
tually no troops to command at the outset except the two-thousand-man 
defense garrison on Ascension. Its real task was that visualized the preceding 
May: a co-ordinating headquarters to handle Army problems and relation- 
ships in Brazil. Recife was the logical place for this headquarters, even 
though Army air operations were concentrated at Natal, because Recife was 
the headquarters of the Brazilian commanders in the area, of the Navy, and 
of the other agencies with which the Army command had to deal. Further- 
more, Recife had good docking facilities and was therefore the best site for 
a theater supply base. Furnishing supplies and services to the airway estab- 
lishment was to be the new theater's chief operating function.^'^ 

The establishment of Army headquarters at Natal and Recife coincided 
with the launching of the Anglo-American North African offensive. On the 
one hand, this first major offensive of United States Army forces in the 
Atlantic war put an end to apprehensions of a Nazi move toward the South 
Atlantic; on the other, it emphasized more than ever the vital significance 

" Memo, CG South Atlantic Wing for CG ATC, 24 Aug 42, Hist of USAFSA, App. XIV; 
Notes of Gen Walsh, Jan 44, quoted in Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. V, p. 206. 

Various papers, dated November-December 1942, OPD 320.2 Brazil and OPD 320.2 Atlan- 
tic Theater of Operations; Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. V, pp. 205-08; Hist of USAFSA, 
pp. 52-54. 

For accounts of the United States Army's garrisoning and use of Ascension Island during World 
War II, see Hist of USAFSA, Ch. V, and Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Chs. IV and V. 



of the South Atlantic airway. With the North Atlantic air route again closed 
down for the winter, for a period of six months the Brazilian route handled 
virtually all air traffic to Europe and Africa, a large part of the planes and 
emergency supplies for India and China, and some of the lend-lease mate- 
rials for the Soviet Union. This traffic included about twenty-five hundred 
combat planes moving to overseas air forces. By May 1943 the Natal air base 
was handling more plane movements each day than it had handled in a 
month a year earlier. The airway to Brazil, planned for hemisphere defense, 
became in 1943 the air funnel tc the battlefields of the world.'^ 

After the Army command moved to Brazil, it continued to defer to Admiral 
Ingram's operational control of defense forces in the South Atlantic area. 
General Walsh and Admiral Ingram appear to have gotten along very well 
together from the outset, and State, War, and Navy Department spokesmen 
united in testifying to the success of Army and Navy commanders in dealing 
with the Brazilian and South Atlantic situation under the informal working 
arrangements in effect. Nevertheless, at the Navy's insistence, the Army 
agreed to the issuance of a joint directive that formally vested unity of com- 
mand in the Navy over all antisubmarine and other combat operations at 
sea in the South Atlantic area.'** 

Brazil and the United States in December 1942 proceeded to organize the 
second of the two mixed commissions provided for in the defense agreement 
of May. On 28 October the Joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission 
had recommended the establishment of a Joint Brazil-United States Military 
Commission at Rio de Janeiro, with the general mission of making "arrange- 
ments for the implementation locally of approved recommendations and plans 
prepared by the Commission in Washington." The Rio commission began 
its work before the end of the year. Col. Francis B. Kane, Chief of the Mili- 
tary Mission, was its senior United States Army member. In effect, this 
commission absorbed the work and personnel of the existing Military and 
Military Air Missions. With the increased flow of military equipment to 
Brazil under lend-lease in 1S)43, and with Brazilian preparations for sending 
troops to the fighting front overseas, the work of the Rio commission rapidly 
increased in volume and variety, and the Brazilians enthusiastically availed 
themselves of its services. General Walsh, as Army commander in Brazil, 
had no authority over the Rio commission and, initially, relatively little con- 

" Hist of South Atlantic Div, ATC, Ch. VI, pp. 2ff. 

^0 Notes on SLC mtg, 8 Feb 43, SLC Min, Vol. IV; Ltr, Adm King to Gen Marshall, 8 Apr 
43; Ltr, Gen Marshall to Adm King, 21 Apr 43. Last two in OPD 336 Brazil. Jt Directive, Adm 
King and Actg CofS McNarney to Comdr South Atlantic Force and CG South Atlantic, 4 Jun 43, 
OPD 384 (4-3-42). 

Recommendation No. 10, 28 Oct 42, OPD 334.8 Jt Braz-U.S. Def Comm. 



nection with its work. By 1944 this latter condition had changed, the United 
States Army Forces South Atlantic having become more and more concerned 
with the training and equipment of Brazilian forces. The consequence was 
that by the summer and fall of 1944 the Army had two headquarters in 
Brazil engaging in essentially the same functions. The War Department did 
not correct this situation until early 1945, when it put the United States 
Army section of the Rio commission under the supervision and administra- 
tive control of the United States Army Forces South Atlantic. *° 

Defense Planning and the Brazilian Expeditionary Force 

In the spring of 1942 the United States Army had anticipated that the 
principal business of the commission about to be established in Washington 
would be the drafting of a detailed plan for the joint defense of northern 
Brazil by United States and Brazilian forces. The commission began work 
on the defense plan in August 1942, but before it completed the plan in 
January 1943 the United States no longer wanted to put any of its own 
ground or air combat units into Brazil. The defense plan, embodied in the 
commission's Recommendation No. 14 of 20 January 1943, provided for a 
ground garrison for northern Brazil to consist of three infantry divisions, one 
armored division, eleven antiaircraft regiments, and eleven coast artillery 
battalions— all to be Brazilian troop units. The plan stated that the units 
were to be equipped by the United States with modern material to be fur- 
nished under lend-lease. The commission itself recognized that the forces 
proposed were larger than actually needed for defense purposes, but it 
pointed out that these units, when properly equipped and trained, could 
eventually collaborate with United States forces in overseas combat opera- 
tions. On General Ord's informal recommendation, the Operations Division 
and the Chief of Staff approved the new defense plan in principle, subjea 
to the qualification that the United States should not plan to equip more 
than the three infantry divisions and three antiaircraft regiments.*' 

Actually, of course, northern Brazil no longer needed a defense force of 
the size recommended by the joint defense commission, nor was the United 
States as yet prepared to furnish modern combat equipment for three Bra- 

'° Memo, OPD for G-2, 1 Dec 42, and atchd L:r of Instructions to U.S. Army members, OPD 
J J4.8 Jt Braz-U.S. Mil Comm; Memos, Gen Secy of Jt Braz-U.S. Def Comm for Senior Army 
Member, Jt Braz-U.S. Mil Comm, 26 Feb 43 and 4 Apr 44, OPD 3.J4.8 Jt Braz-U.S. Def Comm; 
OPD Memo for Record, 7 Apr 44; Memo, OPD for DCofS, 8 Feb 45. Last two in OPD J34.8 
Jt Braz-U.S. Mil Comm. Hist of USAFSA, pp. 82-83. 

»' Memo, Gen Ord for OPD, 12 Feb 43; Memo, OPD for CofS, 16 Mar 43. Both in OPD 
320.2 Brazil. 



zilian infantry divisions. What lay behind the recommendation was Brazil's 
desire to play an active combat role in the war overseas. The Brazilians had 
manifested this desire soon after their declaration of war, and during the fall 
of 1942 some Brazilian Army officers were urging an independent operation 
against Vichy-controlled French Guiana, or even Dakar. Immediately after 
the North African landings the United States War Department began to 
investigate the possibility of using a Brazilian unit in that theater. The De- 
partment of State wanted a Brazilian battalion sent to North Africa, but the 
Army, after studying the problem, "demurred on the grounds that the send- 
ing of Brazilians would make necessary the sending of other Latin American 
troops, and that none could be sent before they [were] . . . supplied, re- 
equipped, and properly trained."'^ 

It was presumably in consequence of President Roosevelt's conversa- 
tion with President Vargas at Natal on 28 January 1943 that the Army 
reversed its position and supported the employment of Brazilian troops 
abroad.^' Thus, when President Vargas and General Carvalho in April in- 
formally presented a plan for a four-division expeditionary force. General 
Marshall agreed; in early May, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff approved 
the plan in principle. The Army then sent General Ord to Brazil to arrange 
its details. As a result the United States in the summer of 1943 agreed to 
send 50 percent of the equipment for one infantry division to Brazil, where 
it was to be used to train Brazilian divisions in rotation. The Brazilian 
troops that were sent overseas were to be re-equipped by the United States 
in the theater of operations.*"' 

General Ord returned to the United States in June 1943 with the con- 
viction that Brazil had a fixed intention to participate in the fighting overseas 
and that it had a real army that would fight well if given four to eight months 
of modernized training with proper equipment. Also, he reported that Presi- 
dent Vargas had agreed to accept and follow the strategic direction of the 
United States in the employment of Brazilian forces overseas, and that Gen- 
eral Dutra, the Minister of War, had asked that Brazilian units serve under 
United States high command in the theater to which they were sent.'^' By 

8^ Min, War Council mtg, 16 Dec 42,' SW Conf Binder 2, OCS Records. 

*' No detailed record of this conversation has been found, but it was publicly announced that 
this topic had been discussed by the two Presidents. 

" Memo, Gen Ord for CofS (through OPD), 12 Aug 43, WDCSA 42-43 Brazil. There is a 
good and fairly detailed account of the training, movement, and combat operations of the Bra- 
zilian Expeditionary Force in the History of USAFSA, Chapter VII. The liaison and training task 
in Italy was performed by officers and enlisted men of the United States Army Forces South 

8' Memos, Gen Ord for CofS, 7 Jun 43; Memo, Gen Ord for G-2, 16 Jun 43. Both in OPD 
336 Brazil. 



its Recommendation No. 16 of 16 August 1943, the Joint Brazil-United States 
Defense Commission formally launched the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. 
After extensive training under the supervision of the Rio Military Commission, 
Brazilian troops began to move overseas in June 1944. Considering the cir- 
cumstances of their training, movement, and equipment, the twenty-five 
thousand Brazilian ground forces and the air squadron that saw active service 
in the Italian theater between September 1944 and May 1945 acquitted them- 
selves as well as General Ord had forecast they would. 

In consequence of its large and active role as a participant in the war, 
Brazil received the lion's share of the ground and air equipment distributed 
by the United States among the Latin American nations during World War II. 
The value of lend-lease material assigned by the War Department to Brazil 
reached $77,000,000 by August 1943, a total that included principally the 
munitions promised in the spring of 1942 and the initial equipment needed 
to train the Brazilian expeditionary forces.^*" By the end of the war the value 
of Army wartime deliveries to Brazil under the lend-lease agreement of 
3 March 1942 amounted to about $230,000,000, considerably more than that 
agreement had promised and more than twice the total value of all other 
Army lend-lease deliveries to the Latin American nations.*^ The value of all 
lend-lease aid rendered to Brazil during and after the war amounted even- 
tually to about $366,000,000, approximately three fourths of the total amount 
of assistance given to all of the Latin American republics together. **** 

Preparations for the reduction and close-out of Army operations in Brazil 
began in March 1945. During the summer, activity along the string of air 
bases temporarily increased as soldiers were redeployed by air from the 
European and Mediterranean theaters, but this operation came to an end 
soon after Japan's surrender. On 31 October 1945 the Army inactivated its 
theater organization, the United States Army Forces South Atlantic, and its 
few remaining troops were turned over to the South Atlantic Wing of the 
Air Transport Command. The Navy had already withdrawn from Brazil, and 
in the autumn of 1945 the Air Transport Command was also preparing to 
close out most of its activities, although negotiations were in progress to 
determine the future use of Brazilian air base facilities.*' The joint commis- 

Memo, OPD for DCofS, 16 Aug 43, WDCSA 42-43 Brazil. 

Tod and Croft, Lend-Lease section of Statistics, Table LL-7. ASF Int Div, MS, Lend-Lease, 
II, 125 5-76, describes Army lend-lease transactions with Brazil after March 1942 in some detail. 
ASF pamphlet, Lend-Lease Transfers, Brazil (1946) lists all transfers of ground equipment by 

" H. Doc. 568, 80th Cong., 2d Sess., Twenty-Fifth Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations, 
pp. 4-7. 

Hist of USAFSA, Ch. IX. 



sions that had been established in Washington and Rio de Janeiro in 1942 
were retained after the war as instruments for military collaboration between 
the two nations in a troubled postwar world. 

The wartime military partnership of the United States and Brazil paid 
rich dividends to both nations. Brazil's armed forces were greatly strengthened, 
both by American armaments and training assistance and by their own active 
participation in the fighting. From Brazil the United States received large 
quantities of materials, several types of which were vital to the successful 
prosecution of the war.'" In collaboration with Brazilian naval and air forces, 
the United States Navy used Brazilian bases to cleanse the South Atlantic 
of German submarines and to blockade it against the shipment of war mate- 
rials to or between the Axis nations. The airway through Brazil, which the 
United States was permitted to use freely and virtually without restriction 
after 1941 for military purposes, was one of the vital links with victory in 
the war. Above all, the defense arrangements between the United States and 
Brazil, the largest and most strategically located of the Latin American re- 
publics, helped immeasurably in maintaining the stability of the Western 
Hemisphere nations against Axis machinations, and, until the Allied landings 
in North Africa in late 1942, these arrangements provided prime insurance 
against a German invasion of the New World. 

'"For a tabulation of such imports during 1941-43, see Paul B. Woodward, "Brazil's Partici- 
pation in World War II," App., Plate XII. (Georgetown University M.A. thesis, 1951, copy in 
Library of Congress microfilm colleaion.) 


The United States and Mexico: 
Solidarity and Security 

Within a few days after the Japanese attack on Hawaii and the Philip- 
pines, the nations of the New World had begun to range themselves along- 
side the United States. Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the six 
republics of Central America immediately declared war against the Axis. 
Brazil, whose security was considered vital to the defense of the hemisphere, 
had pledged its co-operation, but had not for the time being broken its 
diplomatic ties with the Axis. Mexico, which on occasions had not been on 
the best of terms with its neighbor to the north, responded as promptly as 
any and with marked friendliness. 

On the second evening after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the 
President of Mexico, the Honorable Manuel Avila Camacho, publicly affirmed 
his country's devotion to the cause for which the United States was now 
fighting. Announcing over a special radio network that Mexico had severed 
diplomatic relations with Japan, President Avila Camacho placed his nation 
at the side of all those who could "not admit that international intercourse 
should remain indefinitely subject to the arbitrary acts of the more powerful 
countries, and who strive to contribute, by peaceful means, to the building 
of a world in which man shall be the friend of man. . . ." The peace-loving 
nations, he continued, were now beset by the forces of aggression. Under 
the circumstances, it was the destiny of Mexico and the United States to 
provide the "intimate collaboration that may serve to link together in solidar- 
ity the action taken by all the Americas." Then, speaking more particularly 
to his countrymen and advising them to "maintain the serenity required by 
the circumstances," President Avila Camacho promised that the government 
would act with firmness, but ever in conformity to the will of the people 
and to the dignity and honor of the nation.' 

' Manuel Avila Camacho, La Participacion de Mexico en la Defensa Continental (Secretaria de 
Gobernacion, Mexico, 1941). An English text of President Avila Camacho's address has been re- 
leased by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations under the title Mexico and the War in the 
Pacific (International Press Service Bureau, National and International Problems Secies, No. 10, 
Mexico City, 1942). 



If, in 1939, one had considered the background of contention between 
the two countries, there would have appeared little prospect of active mili- 
tary collaboration with Mexico. Twenty-two years earlier, when the United 
States had been on the brink of entering World War I, Mexico was at best 
an unsympathetic neighbor, and seemingly a potential enemy. United States 
troops, moving into northern Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa, a popular 
hero, had left a trail of animosity behind them. An alliance between Im- 
perial Germany and Revolutionary Mexico, such as the Zimmerman Note 
offered, seemed to be not impossible. In the realm of fact, some of the reforms 
provided for in the Mexican constitution of 1917 could only be achieved 
at the expense of American landowners and oil companies in Mexico. This 
was one of the major irritants during the next two decades. Some degree of 
understanding and good will was built up by Ambassador Dwight W. 
Morrow during the late 'twenties and by Ambassador Josephus Daniels a 
decade later, but no real settlement was possible so long as any step taken 
by the Mexican Government in that direction could be made to appear as a 
compromise with the ideals of the revolution or with the spirit of the con- 
stitution. After breaking with former President Plutarco Elias Calles, "The 
Iron Man" of Mexican politics, President Lazaro Cardenas proceeded to 
launch an intensive expropriation program. The resulting controversy and 
other long-standing differences had not been completely liquidated when the 
European war broke out in 1939-^ 

If the background of contention made military collaboration with Mexico 
seem uncertain, the strategic outlook at first made it appear unnecessary. 
During the first twelve months or so after the outbreak of war in Europe, 
eastern Brazil and the South Atlantic had been the undisputed focal point 
of hemisphere defense. After the summer of 1940 there were times when 
Army planners were compelled to divert their attention elsewhere, but by 
and large they focused their interest on the bulge of Brazil. Mexico, with 
the consent of its government, might offer a convenient corridor for air 
movements to the Panama Canal, but the main route to Brazil followed the 
sweep of the Antilles. And although the disastrous shift in the military situa- 
tion in Europe during the summer of 1940 began to point to Canada as a 
more probable partner in arms, nevertheless the narrow seas between Brazil 
and the Guinea coast continued to engulf most of the attention of the mili- 
tary planners until the United States entered the war. 

^ See Josephus Daniels, Shirt Sleeve Diplomat (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 
1947), pp. 56-60; and Howard F. Cline, The Uniteci States and Mexico (Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press, 1953), pp. 236-47. 



The fall of France had raised the possibility that American planners of 
defense would have to view the hemisphere through a bifocal lens, to con- 
sider not only remote but also adjoining neighbors, north as well as south. 
The very crisis itself and the fear that danger was approaching, irrespective 
of the direction from which it might appear, served to bring the United 
States closer to its neighbors on both sides. Certain elements in the situation 
were exerting a definite pull toward a closer relationship with Mexico. A 
presidential election was approaching in Mexico which might give rise to 
disorder and domestic disturbances. The fear that Axis agents would take 
advantage of circumstances such as these to pave the way for a Nazi or Fascist 
domination of Latin America was not the least of the factors governing 
United States military planning. Furthermore, Mexico no longer had any 
firm ties to the Old World. Unlike Canada, which was an integral part of 
the British Commonwealth of Nations, Mexico was a stanch member of the 
Pan-American family, committed to the principle that "every act susceptible 
of disturbing the peace of America affects each and every one" of the Ameri- 
can nations. Taking one consideration with another, the prospect for col- 
laboration with Mexico was now becoming rather favorable, but neither 
Mexico nor Canada rushed headlong to act in concert with the United States, 
nor did the United States woo either one impetuously. Circumstances pushed 
the nations of the New World together. 

Gathering Momentum 

In a vigorous demonstration of their unity of feeling, all the American 
republics on 19 May 1940 had protested against the German invasion of the 
Low Countries. The problem, however, was to translate collective indigna- 
tion into common policy, and common policy into joint action. The United 
States, on its part, made solemn declaration to its neighbors and to the world 
that it would "cooperate fully, whenever such cooperation is desired, with the 
other American Governments in crushing all activities which arise from non- 
American sources and which imperil our political and economic freedom." ' 
Mexico, Brazil, and all the other Latin American nations except Argentina 
expressed their readiness to collaborate with the United States. In order to 
make their collaboration effective, the United States would have to provide 
many of the material warmaking means. Before this could be done the United 
States would have to know how far each government could go in defending 
its own territory, how far it could and would go in assisting its neighbors, 

* From an address by the American Minister to Uruguay, delivered ac Montevideo on 23 June 
1940, quoted in Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, p. 6l4. 



whether it would permit the United States to use its bases for the assistance 
of a third American nation, and whether it would join in staff conversations 
and authorize the drafting of joint plans.* 

While the Battle of France was raging toward its climax in early June 
1940, Department of State officials held a series of conversations with the 
Mexican Ambassador, in which these basic problems of hemisphere defense 
were explored and the groundwork of active collaboration laid. Before the 
technical military conversations began. United States Army and Navy staff 
representatives met with the Ambassador on 11 June to hear a statement of 
Mexico's position. President Cardenas was fully aware of the threat to the 
security of the hemisphere, the Ambassador declared, and Mexico, he assured 
the American officers, "was prepared unreservedly to collaborate with the 
United States in the development of plans for the common defense." Mex- 
ican plans, he continued, were based on the assumption that any physical in- 
tervention by the Axis Powers would be a possibility only in the remote future 
and that German activities in Mexico could be discounted as a serious threat 
to continental security. The Mexican Government, the Ambassador said, had 
already taken measures to control the small German element in the country. 
Mexico's greatest need, he continued, was equipment and munitions, which 
in the past had always been obtained from Europe. As its contribution, the 
Mexican Government was, he intimated, prepared to develop air and naval 
bases "at places to be chosen strategically, not only from the purely national 
point of view but from the broader point of view of hemisphere defense." 
The Ambassador then ended his remarks by pointing out that the necessary 
basis of joint military action in an emergency was a general political agree- 
ment between the two countries.' 

The conversations were resumed in July after the Mexican elections, and 
representatives of the naval and military agencies of both countries partic- 
ipated. Although only conditional agreements resulted, these July conferences 
succeeded in creating an atmosphere of frankness and harmony, and served 
to place on record the views of the two War Departments. Both countries 
expressed their complete willingness to co-operate; neither was ready to go 
as far as the other wished. Brig. Gen. Tomas Sanchez Hernandez, the senior 
Mexican representative, reiterated what the Ambassador had said concerning 
the Axis threat to Mexico and the importance of Mexico's obtaining equip- 
ment and munitions from the United States, but he was not prepared to 
elaborate on the Ambassador's hint that Mexican airfields might be available 

* See lCh. Villi above, and Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 616-17. 
' Memo of Conv (Dept of State), 1 1 Jun 40, WPD 4338. A condensed report of the same con- 
ference is in Memo, Capt Spears, USN, for CNO, 10 Jul 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



for purposes of hemisphere defense. When asked point-blank whether Mex- 
ico would permit the use of its airfields for movements to Panama and else- 
where in the Western Hemisphere, and whether Mexico could guarantee the 
security of the airfields, he replied that he was not authorized to say "yes," 
but his opinion was that the President of Mexico would extend "full and 
sincere cooperation." As to the protection of the airfields, he pointed out that 
except in the State of Chiapas the fields were owned principally by Americans. 
As to purchasing arms and machinery in the United States, he emphasized that 
Mexico's participation in hemisphere defense depended upon its ability to par- 
ticipate without disturbing the economy of the country. The best solution, the 
general concluded, would be for the United States to grant credits to Mexico 
and allocate arms and machinery simultaneously. Colonel Clark, the senior 
United States Army representative, agreed that this was undoubtedly a sound 
idea, but hardly within the province of the War Department.* Meanwhile, the 
naval conferences had succeeded in disposing of certain particular problems 
of co-operation and liaison that were more detailed than the general ques- 
tions of national security, the solution of which had been the concern of the 
Army staff conferences. Nevertheless, the Navy Department's major objec- 
tive, base rights at Acapulco and Magdalena Bay, was not included in the 
series of specific recommendations to which the naval representatives of the 
two nations put their names on 24 July.^ The Army conferences had come to 
an end two days earlier. Although it was then agreed to reassemble at the 
call of General Sanchez, the meetings were not resumed until the next year, 

In the meantime, the War and Na\7 Departments tried to obtain a 
formal, signed agreement as the finishing touch to the conferences. Without 
undue delay, the record of the conversations was approved and forwarded 
through customary diplomatic channels to the Mexican Government for its 
approval. Throughout August and September the two departments awaited 
word that Mexico had accepted the staff agreements. December arrived and 
the new president, Avila Camacho, was inaugurated in Mexico City, but the 
new government, like its predecessor, withheld formal approval. There had 
been talk of establishing a joint defense board similar to the Permanent Joint 
Board on Defense, Canada-United States, and President Avila Camacho, al- 
though for the moment unwilling to concur publicly and officially in such a 
step, was agreeable to another series of informal staff conversations by the 

" Memo of Conv, 19 Jul 40, sub; Co-operation Between Mexico and the U.S. in Hemisphere 
Def; Memo of Ganv, 22 Jul 40, sub: Co-operation Between Mexico and the U.S. in Hemisphere 
Def. Both in WPD 4}}8. 

' Report of Capt Spears, USN, and Capt David Coello Ochoa, Mexican Navy, title: Result of 
Staff Convs . . ., 24 Jul 40, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 



men who would later become members of the board. Prominent among the 
items on the proposed agenda was a recommendation by the Army and the 
Navy that the agreements conditionally made in the July conferences be for- 
mally ratified.^ All efforts along this line were unsuccessful until after the 
Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. 

The delay did not appear to reflect any genuine unwillingness on the part 
of either government to co-operate with the other; rather it seemed to repre- 
sent a bowing to expediency on the part of both and to the circumstances of 
the moment as seen by the Mexican Government. For a time after the July 
elections a revolution in Mexico seemed probable. Adherents of the defeated 
candidate declared that the will of the people had been circumvented by fraud 
and would triumph through force. By September sporadic rioting and demon- 
strations had spread from Mexico City to the Rio Grande. A rump govern- 
ment installed itself in the southern hills, while the northwest — Mexico's 
cockpit of revolution— began to seethe. An open, publicly announced under- 
standing between the federal government and the United States would have 
added more fuel to the turmoil. After the threat of revolution had passed, 
Nazi agents and a small "fifth column" tried to keep the flames alive by 
charging that a "Cardenas-Avila Camacho combine had sold Mexico down 
the river to the United States in payment for our recognition of Avila 
Camacho."' A spurious "treaty" was circulated as evidence. Wholly ficti- 
tious, the document was supposed to have been signed at Cuernavaca on 14 
November by Cardenas, Avila Camacho, and three United States Army 
officers, and purported to give the United States the whole of Baja California, 
the use of all Mexican ports as naval bases, as well as a monopoly on all oils 
and minerals, and, finally, to permit the occupation of Mexico by the United 
States Army.'" The virulence of the attack went far beyond the customary 
post-election anti-Americanism. Until it died down President Avila Camacho 
undoubtedly preferred not to make any formal commitment or public an- 
nouncement of collaboration with the United States. 

A misapprehension by the War Plans Division of what the Mexican repre- 
sentatives had agreed to in the conferences of July 1940 probably contributed 
to the Mexican Government's hesitancy. On this point the record of the con- 
versations is clear. General Sanchez agreed only to inform the Mexican Am- 
bassador, first, that the United States desired to use Mexican airfields for pur- 
poses of "continental defense" and, second, that the United States requested 

' Jt Memo, SW and SN for Secy State, 3 1 Dec 40, sub; Agenda, Proposed Jt Mexico-U.S. Def 
Coram, WPD 4338-9; Notes on Staff Convs to Date With Mexico, prepared by Col Ridgway, 12 
Feb 41, WPD 4338-12; Memo, Capt Spears, USN, for Col Ridgway, 24 Jan 41, OPD Misc 61. 

' Betty Kirk, Covering the Mexican Front (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1942), p. 252. 



Mexico to provide adequate protection for the fields. Yet the War Plans 
Division, in a memorandum for General Marshall on 31 July, gave the fol- 
lowing as two of the bases of agreement brought out in the conferences: 

Mexico will agree to allow the United States to use its airfields for movement of U.S. 
combat aviation to the Panama Canal or elsewhere in Latin America, as required to ac- 
complish the tasks of Hemisphere Defense. Mexico will agree to protect its airfields so as 
to afford security for their use by U.S. aviation, ..." 

The mistaken idea that a formal acceptance by Mexico of the conditional 
agreements reached in the conferences would obligate the Mexican Govern- 
ment to permit the United States to use Mexican airfields persisted until mid- 
February 1941.'' 

One of the major stumbling blocks to a hard and fast defense agreement, 
after a measure of domestic tranquility had returned to Mexico, was the con- 
tinued failure of the two countries to settle their claims controversy. After 
President Avila Camacho took office, the United States made a determined 
effort to reach a general accord, but the oil question remained as turbid as 
ever. Little progress, if any, could be discerned until midsummer of 1941, 
when the two governments approved a tentative formula of settlement. 
Almost simultaneously the course of military collaboration became 
smoother." Although the final agreements that settled the oil problem and 
its related issues were not signed until three or four months afterward, 
neither government was responsible for the delay. Both hailed the settlement 
with deep satisfaction. Its importance to the joint military effort lay prin- 
cipally in the interpretation placecT upon it by the Mexican Government, and 
Foreign Minister Ezequiel Padilla was unsparing of his praise. The Novem- 
ber agreements, he told the Mexican Senate, marked a change in the foreign 
policy of the United States. They were "a clean sweep of the irritation and 
barriers that had lasted for several decades," and "one of the most eloquent 
demonstrations of the spirit of the new America." They were, he concluded, 
the "logical, imperative and indispensable" leaven of liberty, proof of con- 
tinental solidarity.''' Five or six years later, Cordell Hull looked back over his 
long career and decided that the settlement of November 1941 was "a large 

" Memo, WPD for CofS, 31 Jul 40, sub; Staff Convs, Mexico-U.S., WPD 4338-3. See also. 
Summary of Staff Conversations, n.d., but about 28 Dec 40, WPD 4115-44. 

Notes on Staff Convs with Mexico, prepared by Col Ridgway, 12 Feb 41, WPD 4338-12. 

Ltr, Under Secy State Welles to President Roosevelt, 8 Aug 41, Roosevelt Papers, FDRL; 
Memo for Record, Col Ridgway, 11 Aug 41, WPD 4338-26; Hull, Memoirs, II, 1140-43. 

" Ezequiel Padilla, The Agreements With the U.S. . . ., English text of a speech before the 
Mexican Senate, 25 Nov 41, released by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations (International 
Press Service Bureau, National and International Problems Series, No. 9, Mexico City, 1942). See 
also. Kirk, Covering the Mexican Front, pp. 184, 349-50, and Langer and Gleason, Undeclared 
War, pp. 608-10. 



factor in having our neighbor to the south in full accord with us at the moment 
of Pearl Harbor." 

Running parallel to, and simultaneously with, the Department of State 
negotiations that ended in the claims agreement was a series of military staff 
conferences. Picking up where the conversations of the previous July had left 
off, Mexican and United States staff officers had been meeting fairly regularly 
since February 1941. Although nominally informal discussions of matters of 
common interest, the 1941 conferences actually were official parleys between 
representatives of the War and Navy Departments of the two countries for 
the purposes of reaching a formal agreement on important military and naval 
problems. They accomplished much, and later, in 1942, they developed into 
the Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission. 

The Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission 

The first tangible evidence of President Avila Camacho's intent to collab- 
orate in matters of defense had appeared within three weeks of his inaugura- 
tion. In reply to an inquiry about setting up a joint defense commission. 
Foreign Minister Padilla on 20 December 1940 had informed the Americ